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Vikings Designate Kene Nwangwu and Dan Chisena to Return To Practice From IR

Nwangwu and Chisena have a 21-day window to be activated from injured reserve, which starts now.

The Vikings have designated running back Kene Nwangwu and wide receiver Dan Chisena to return to practice on Wednesday, the team announced. Both players made the initial 53-man roster and then were placed on injured reserve prior to Week 1.

Nwangwu and Chisena have now missed the required three games while on IR, but although they'll return to practice this week, there's no guarantee they'll be activated to play against the Browns. Neither player has practiced in over three weeks, so there will be a ramp-up period required to get back into the swing of things.

The NFL understands that. Once a player on IR is designated to return to practice, teams have a 21-day window to take them off IR and place them on the active roster. If they aren't activated by the end of that window, they'll spend the rest of the season on IR.

Both Nwangwu and Chisena should provide additional reinforcements for Ryan Ficken, the coordinator of the Vikings' vastly-improved special teams. After a disastrous 2020, Minnesota fired Marwan Maalouf, promoted Ficken, and now ranks second in PFF special teams grade and 11th in special teams DVOA. Nwangwu and Chisena are quite possibly the two fastest players on the entire roster, having both run unofficial 40s in the 4.3 range. They could help as gunners or, in Nwangwu's case, provide another option in the return game.

Nwangwu suffered a hyperextended left knee on the opening kickoff of the preseason, derailing his rookie season after an impressive training camp. The lightning-quick fourth-round pick could be used in a variety of ways on special teams and offense, potentially competing with Ihmir Smith-Marsette at kick returner and Ameer Abdullah for the No. 3 running back job.

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Per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, the expectation is that Nwangwu will be activated next week, not this one. However, it'll depend on how he looks in his return to practice.

“I haven’t seen him run in, I don’t know, five weeks," Mike Zimmer said. "So I won’t know anything until I see practice today."

Chisena, a 2020 UDFA, is another guy with absurd speed. The former Penn State track star is a long ways from ever seeing the field as a receiver, but he can add value as one of the fastest gunners in the league on punt and kick coverage. He's improved with his angles and tackling over the course of the last year and a half. He suffered an undisclosed injury during the preseason.

The Vikings would obviously need to release or waive two players on the 53-man roster if they plan on activating Nwangwu and Chisena.

Still on long-term IR for the Vikings are TE Irv Smith Jr., DE Janarius Robinson, WRs Bisi Johnson and Blake Proehl, and DT Jordon Scott.

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