6 Vikings We’re Excited to See in Week 1

Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; USC wide receiver Jordan Addison on stage after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings twenty third overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, the Minnesota Vikings are set to begin their regular season tomorrow.

After a successful 2022 in Kevin O’Connell’s first season as head coach, the Vikings hope to build off their 13-4 record and NFC North title from a year ago. Heading into the regular season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, here are 6 Vikings who we are excited to see get back on the field tomorrow afternoon.

RB Alexander Mattison

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) celebrates his rushing touchdown during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Dalvin Cook is no longer wearing a Vikings uniform, and thus, Alexander Mattison is stepping into the full-time RB1 role for Minnesota this season. In three of Mattison’s five career starts, he has totaled at least 95 rushing yards, and he is plenty capable of being a contributor in the passing game with 70 receptions for 526 receiving yards over his first four seasons.

The Vikings are running back the same offensive line as they had in 2022, along with the addition of Josh Oliver at tight end. This should bode well for Minnesota’s running game as center Garrett Bradbury has consistently been a force as a run-blocker throughout his career.

Minnesota gets a big first test in Week 1 against the Buccaneers, who boast a number of uber-talented players on their defense, including DT Vita Vea. Mattison’s success out of the backfield will be a determining factor if the Vikings can win this game.

CB Byron Murphy

Dec 12, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. against the New England Patriots at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings lost a number of players from their 2022 roster at cornerback, and the only true starter that they brought in was Byron Murphy.

Murphy is a very versatile defender, capable of playing either on the boundary or in the slot while being a strong presence in run defense. Finally, we will get a chance to see the Vikings shiny free agent signing take the field in Week 1 against a talented Buccaneers WR group.

WR Jordan Addison

6 Vikings
Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) during warmups prior to the game at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Despite some of their potential needs on the defensive side of the ball, the Minnesota Vikings opted to load up at the wide receiver position by selecting Jordan Addison with the 23rd overall pick.

The young wide receiver had a truly prolific collegiate career at Pittsburgh and USC, totaling 219 receptions for 3134 yards and 29 TDs over the course of three seasons. He led the entirety of FBS in receiving TDs during 2021 with 17, and his route-running ability should be on full display this weekend.

With the departure of Adam Thielen, Minnesota needs to find another red zone security blanket for Kirk Cousins to throw to this season. Addison gets his first chance to prove himself capable of that role on Sunday.

LB Brian Asamoah

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Aug 3, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah II (33) during training camp at TCO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

A third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, LB Brian Asamoah did not get many opportunities to play with the defense during his rookie season. However, he made the most of his limited chances, including a forced fumble and recovery against the New York Giants in Week 16.

The hard-hitting, lightning fast linebacker is now slotted to start Week 1 against the Buccaneers, and he will be tasked with helping keep players like RB Rachaad White and TE Cade Otton in check. Expect UDFA Ivan Pace to rotate in on occasion, but this week is all about seeing what Asamoah can do in a much larger role.

CB Akayleb Evans

Can Brian Flores Unlock the Vikings Cornerbacks?
Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans (21) after a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Amongst the aforementioned “unproven” CBs on the Vikings roster, Akayleb Evans is the one tasked with being a starter in Week 1. He earned a pair of starts during his rookie season in 2022, but concussions ultimately sidelined him for the final stretch of the season.

Evans gets a big test in his first game back for the Vikings, matching up with a pair of savvy veteran receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Minnesota’s pass defense was one of the worst in the NFL last season, and under Brian Flores’ tutelage, Evans’ abilities in coverage will be crucial towards improving this area.

WR Justin Jefferson

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Aug 5, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) during training camp at Twin Cities Orthopedic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

You can’t have a list of exciting players without including Justin Jefferson. He is only entering his age-24 season, but already, the 2020 first-round pick has proven to be one of, if not the very best receiver in all of football.

In each of his first three seasons, Jefferson has somehow managed to get better not only in terms of production, but also by improving his route-running. He is once again on the quest for that elusive 2000-yard receiving season, and his journey begins tomorrow. It will be very interesting to see what kind of gaudy numbers he can put up on this elite Tampa Bay secondary.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.

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