The Vikings will roll out their third kickoff returner in seven games on Sunday evening.

Special teams coordinator Ryan Ficken said Thursday that rookie running back Kene Nwangwu was in the U.S. Bank Stadium will return against the Dallas Kicks. Nwangwu will make his NFL debut after spending the first six games in injured reserve with a knee injury.

Rookie wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette returned to kickoff in the first three games before sustaining a toe injury, although he has since recovered. The Vikings (3-3) then went to Ameer Abdullah’s running back before he was released and signed with Carolina last week.

“Obviously its speed, how electric it is with it,” Ficken said of what he likes about Nwangwu, a fourth-round election from the state of Iowa. “But the way he deals with himself in pressure situations as best we could in practice is just excited to see him out there and loosen it up a bit.”

Smith-Marsette, a round five pick from Iowa, averaged only 20.8 yards on his four returns. Abdullah averaged 23.1 on seven returns. Abdullah made a 45-yard return in his last game in Carolina on October 17, his longest in four Vikings seasons.

Ficken hopes that the Vikings will eventually have stability who gives kickoffs back. In addition to Nwangwu and Smith-Marsette, they also have wide receivers K.J. Osborn, who returned 14 kickoffs for an average of 21.6 yards in 2020 but has not made a comeback this season.

“That’s what we’re trying to build,” said Ficken. “We have two young people, two rookies, so we’re trying to figure out what’s best for them and what’s best for this team. And now it’s Kene. ”

After the Vikings left last week, wide receiver Justin Jefferson went to Los Angeles. He attended two Lakers games and saw LeBron James play for the first time.

“This is my favorite player, so I had to visit him. … That was one thing on the bucket list, “Jefferson said.

Jefferson said his seat was near Lakers Bank for the October 19th game against Golden State.

“We were sitting right next to him so we could see him,” said Jefferson. “They lost so you know what it is like when you lose, you don’t want to bother them or nothing, but it was cool to see him in person.”

After Jefferson returned to training this week, Jefferson said the Vikings worked on ball safety, among other things. They fumbled four times in their 34-28 overtime win at Carolina. The only loss was from Jefferson, which “frustrated” him.

“I tripped a bit, which means if you go down you have a defender blow at it,” said Jefferson. “And that happened to me in the game, so keep working on it a bit.”

Jefferson also said Thursday he hoped Cincinnati rookie recipient Ja’Marr, his former LSU teammate, got more yards this season than he did last year as a rookie. Jefferson’s 1,400 yards he received was the second-most in professional history, after the 1,473 Bill Groman had for Houston in 1960.

Chase has covered 754 yards in seven games, on track to finish a 17-game season with 1,831. His Bengals quarterback is Joe Burrow, who pitched both Chase and Jefferson at LSU.

“(Chase did) a great job,” said Jefferson. “He’s killing it, especially Joe, his college quarterback. I’m proud of him and Joe and I hope he can do it. ”

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who was limited in training this week due to right calf overload, told reporters Thursday that a decision will likely be made on Saturday whether he will play the Vikings.

“It’s not entirely my choice because there is a bigger picture,” said Prescott, who was injured in the last game of the Cowboys’ last game on October 17th. “It’s more than just a game. … I don’t want it to last this week.”

Co-defensive coordinator Adam Zimmer said the Vikings are preparing for the Prescott game but will also work on backup Cooper Rush.

“I don’t think the offense would change that dramatically between quarterbacks,” said Zimmer. “I expect to see Dak, and this is how we will do it, but we will see (Rush’s) pieces.”
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