The Vikings entered the final three games of the year with an already secured NFC North championship and a clinched playoff berth. Kevin O’Connell’s team has done all of that in his first season at the helm. The head coach turned the organization around in one offseason from an underachieving 8-9 team to a team that is extremely hard to beat, as only three of the opponents have done so.

O’Connell hinted that the team might put some players, especially veterans, on a pitch count in the final games of the season. He specified that this does not include Justin Jefferson, who “would is going to fight me every time we try to start having that conversation.”

Kevin O’Connell Hints More Playing Time for 2 Vikings Defenders

Whenever starters get some rest, backups get the chance to shine, and two Vikings did that Saturday. A rookie and a special teams ace are opening some eyes and will get more playing time, as the head coach announced after the game against the Giants that Greg Joseph won with a record-setting field goal.

Brian Asamoah

Kevin OConnell Hints More
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah II (33) leaps over the celebration pile late during the fourth quarter after an interception by safety Camryn Bynum. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The rookie linebacker was a 2022 third-round selection. First-year general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah picked the linebacker who reminded him of Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Both are speedy, explosive players for their positions. Asamoah had a tough time getting on the field because the team already employed Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks, so the expectations for the rookie were not very high in his first year.

However, after exciting performances in the preseason, fans hoped to see the rookie in action. The Vikings slowly brought Asamoah on the field for a few snaps every game. In the last two games, against the Giants and the Colts, Asamoah totaled 48 defensive snaps, despite neither Hicks nor Kendricks suffering an injury. In the epic comeback win against the Colts, Asamoah recorded eight tackles, against the Giants, he forced a fumble and picked up the ball in a truly game-changing play.

Asamoah brings a different type of athleticism to the linebacker room, something Kendricks and Hicks can’t provide at this stage of their careers. Asamoah will be a starting linebacker sooner rather than later.

Josh Metellus

Josh Metellus was viewed as a roster-bubble player after the Vikings picked Lewis Cine in the draft’s first round. However, he was essential to the special teams. Surprising for most, the safety started in Week 3 against Detroit in the spot of the injured Harrison Smith over the rookie Cine, and he did a marvelous job. He even secured an interception to seal the win.

kevin o'connell hints more
Dec 11, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings safety Josh Metellus (44) during the second half at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Metellus starting said more about him than it did about Cine because he proved that he is an excellent backup. In Week 14, Smith once again missed a game, and Metellus started in his place. He recorded a phenomenal 20 tackles in the two games combined.

Metellus was a 2020 6th-rounder. It will be tough for him to secure a long-term starting job in Minnesota, considering that Bynum and Cine are young players, and Smith is set to start until he walks away from the sport.

However, if something happened to the starters, the Vikings would have an incredible backup to fill in. In the win over the Giants, Metellus blocked a punt which was a huge play in the game. Following the block, the Vikings scored a touchdown after receiving the ball on a short field.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt

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