4 Vikings players set for a smaller role in the 2021 season
By Luke Parrish
Ameer Abdullah – RB
Ameer Abdullah has not been a vital piece for the Vikings by any means, but he is returning for training camp in what will be his third year with the team. As the third running back, Abdullah has not been needed in the offense much but has served as an extra option when things get tough in the backfield.
He has rushed for under 200 yards and caught just 23 passes for Minnesota since joining the team in 2018, but still, his role will likely diminish this upcoming season. His primary role heading into camp is most likely as a returner on special teams, but even that seems like a stretch.
The Vikings selected running back Kene Nwangwu in the 2021 NFL Draft, and he does pretty much everything Abdullah does, but with speed. Nwangwu is an insane athlete with special teams experience that will earn him some reps in camp. His change of pace will also catch the eye of coaches, just as Mike Boone did in recent years.
With Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison sticking as the top two backs, Nwangwu is most likely going to get on the roster as the kick returner and occasional speed back when Cook needs a breather. Kene may not even be used in the offense at all as a rookie, but his presence negates any need for Abdullah on the roster.
In fact, it would be surprising if Abdullah actually makes Minnesota’s final 2021 roster, given the rest of the running back room and the new faces in the return competition. Vikings rookie wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette could also take away reps from Abdullah on special teams.