Vikings Urged to Trade for Benched Rams Running Back

Getty Head coach Kevin O'Connell of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings drastically need to improve their running game if they hope to climb out of an 0-2 start to the season — and that may call for some reinforcements in the running back room.

Bleacher Report suggested Minnesota should trade for Rams running back Cam Akers, who was a healthy scratch from Sunday’s Week 2 game against the 49ers. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, “Akers’ spot is up in the air” and Los Angeles has actively engaged in trade talks.

“The Vikings parted ways with long-time back Dalvin Cook in the offseason and appeared keen on handing the keys over to Alexander Mattison,” Bleacher Report’s Jack Murray wrote. “His 2023 has not gotten off to a hot start, as he only has 62 yards on 19 carries and notably lost a fumble during the team’s Week 2 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

“This is obviously not a reason to part ways with him but Mattison has been successful in a tandem situation in the past, so acquiring Akers could be a solid option to boost his productivity.”

The Vikings have the fewest rushing yards in the league through two weeks, posting 69 rushing yards on 26 attempts for 2.7 yards per carry this season. The hope was that heavier personnel packages that include two tight ends would create more versatility and shore up more blockers in the running game.

Mattison isn’t at fault. According to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, Mattison gained just 0.95 yards before contact on his 19 carries this season. That ranks 43rd in the league, which saw an average of 2.17 yards before contact.

Acquiring Akers could give the Vikings another dimension to its running game, however, he may not be the remedy to the Vikings’ rushing struggles.

A 2020 second-round pick, Akers helped the Rams win the Super Bowl during his second season after returning from an Achilles injury that was sustained during the summer. He rushed for a career-high 786 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Akers had just 29 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries during the Rams’ Week 1 loss to the Seahawks.

Vikings Offensive Line Injury Update

The Vikings offensive line has struggled to run the ball through two weeks, and that’s partially due to injuries.

Starting center Garrett Bradbury played just seven snaps in the season opener before suffering a back injury that has kept him off the field since. Bradbury has been an above-average run-blocker throughout his career and also the keystone communicator on the offensive line. Austin Schlottmann is experienced, serving as backup to Bradbury when he was out with a back injury for four games in 2022, but he is a downgrade in the run game.

Minnesota’s best lineman, left tackle Christian Darrisaw was also out for Week 2 against the Eagles.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell was optimistic that Darrisaw and Bradbury have an advantage of a 10-day span to make a full recovery before Week 3’s matchup against the Chargers.

Vikings Betting Underdogs vs. Chargers in Week 3

The Vikings (0-2) enter Week 3 as 1.5-point underdogs to the Chargers (0-2,) per SportsBook Wire, although the 1.5-point margin signals the game is a toss-up between two teams who have underperformed this season.

Los Angeles has scored at will behind a superpowered offense fueled by Justin Herbert and Austin Ekeler. Ekeler was out in a Week 2 loss to the Titans and did not practice all week with an ankle injury.

There’s potential for a shootout as both defenses have struggled this season, although that offers some opportunity for the Vikings to chew the clock and run the ball against a porous Chargers front that has allowed 210 yards on the ground through two weeks.

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David Foos
David Foos
7 days ago

So Akers has 29 yards on 22 carries behind a good offensive line. Just what do you think he can do behind ours? Mattison has proven to be very effective when we have given him good blocking. I say look for some good guards and get them!

Mike Mostad
Mike Mostad
7 days ago
Reply to  David Foos

Matty has had a few runs that has gained yards where Cook never would have. I loved Dalvin, always a chance to take it to the house every time he touched the ball, but also led the league in runs for negative yardage. Yet Mattison has poor speed for a LB, pathetic for a RB. He’ll never break off a big gain even with good blocking. Chandler has far better potential, just needs a bit more experience. Matty has never had good vision, better last year than in previous years, but relatively slow and only marginal power limits him.

Mike Mostad
Mike Mostad
7 days ago

What is so frustrating is that their interior olinemen are well known for being poor at pass blocking are at least ok run blocking, not this year so far. Risner will replace the very terrible Ingram, that will help.. hopefully. Mattison has no speed but has shown some “will” on a few runs. But let us face facts. Mattison is slow. He will NEVER break a big one and he is only marginal as a power back. Chandler and Gaskin are both good receiving and blocking backs that have the potential to break off big gains due to their speed. Akers is not the answer. I would much rather that they bring in Kareem Hunt if Chandler or Gaskin are not the answer.