What was going on with returns?
The first released unofficial depth chart for the Minnesota Vikings showed running back Kene Nwangwu as the team’s primary kickoff returner with K.J Osborn and Ty Chandler as his backups for the job. However, it was Ihmir Smith-Marsette who started the game fielding kickoffs.
Smith-Marsette got the opportunity to return three kicks before Ty Chandler and Jordan Nailor each got a shot to return one. It is interesting that neither Osborn nor Nwangwu returned a kick in this game, which likely means the start of the depth chart might already be set in stone.
There is no reason to think Nwangu won’t be the one returning kicks when the regular season starts. Perhaps the Vikings are using this opportunity to check on depth past their first two options, but that seems like something that would be done in practice or training camp.
On the other hand, Smith-Marsette handled both punt returns and totaled a four-yard loss on those plays. Nailor is behind him on the depth chart but didn’t have the opportunity to return any punts in Week 1 of the preseason.
This was just strange…but there has to be some reasoning behind it.