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Ben Ellefson & Kenny Willekes Returning to Vikings

TE Ben Ellefson
TE Ben Ellefson

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings on Wednesday announced tight end Ben Ellefson and outside linebacker Kenny Willekes are returning for 2023.

Ellefson and Willekes were both restricted free agents as players with three accrued seasons and expired contracts.

Ellefson, a native of Hawley, first joined Minnesota in 2021 after beginning his career in Jacksonville the season before as an undrafted free agent out of North Dakota State.

View the best photos of Vikings TE Ben Ellefson from the 2022 season.

He has played nine games, making one start, over the past two seasons. Primarily a blocker on offense, Ellefson caught three passes for 26 yards and two first downs on three targets last season.

Ellefson totaled 43 offensive snaps and 52 snaps on special teams in Minnesota's first four games of 2022 before suffering a groin injury and landing on Injured Reserve. He returned to practice in November for an evaluation period but reverted to IR.

OLB Kenny Willekes
OLB Kenny Willekes

Willekes joined Minnesota in 2020 as a seventh-round pick out of Michigan State.

He was turning in an interesting showing during training camp before suffering a leg injury that August in Minnesota's practice at U.S. Bank Stadium.

View the best photos of Vikings OLB Kenny Willekes from the 2022 season.

Willekes returned in 2021 and played in six games, recording 18 tackles, seven quarterback hits, 2.5 sacks and a pass defensed on 202 defensive snaps.

Another injury suffered last summer landed Willekes on Injured Reserve for 2022.