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Kene Nwangwu & Ty Chandler Impress in Vikings Run Game at Las Vegas

Kene Nwangwu is picking up where he left off after impressing as a rookie last season.

During Sunday's preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders, Nwangwu — along with rookie Ty Chandler — put on a show for Vikings fans at Allegiant Stadium.

Even though Minnesota fell 26-20, the Vikings backfield duo was solid all afternoon.

View photos of UNC RB Ty Chandler who was selected No. 169 overall in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Chandler, the fifth-round pick out of the University of North Carolina, led Minnesota with 50 rushing yards on just five carries while Nwangwu added 41 yards on the ground on seven carries. He also had two receptions for 18 yards.

The offensive showing got Nwangwu's second season off to a nice start. His biggest plays as a rookie last year came on kickoff returns of 98 and 99 yards for touchdowns against the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, respectively.

Alexander Mattison started the first two drives, and then it was Nwangwu's turn.

He caught a short pass from Sean Mannion, who started the game, for an 11-yard gain and added runs of five, seven and three yards before the Vikings settled for a 20-yard field goal from Greg Joseph in the second quarter.

The ensuing offensive possession for Minnesota saw Nwangwu and Chandler team up for 67 of the Vikings 84-yard drive that was capped by another field goal from Joseph.

In the second half, after a Raiders touchdown put them up 16-6, Daniel Carlson booted a kickoff to Chandler, who looked like he got stopped momentarily before bouncing to the outside for a 56-yard return into Las Vegas territory to provide a spark for Minnesota. It worked, as the Vikings marched down before Kellen Mond found Albert Wilson for the Vikings first touchdown of the preseason.

Head Coach Kevin O'Connell praised Chandler's ability to showcase some of the physicality that isn't seen sometimes in practice.

"I thought across the board, Ty, he's pretty decisive in the run game, putting his foot down, getting north and south," O'Connell said. "There were a couple of bounce runs there, and then obviously that kick return really got us going on that drive…he ran with the type of physicality that sometimes you don't get to see in practice.

"You know it's there, you know the vision's there, so he was a real bright spot for me tonight," O'Connell added.

Fellow Vikings rookie Lewis Cine also offered high praise of Chandler.

"I think [Ty] is a real strong back. He's showing and he's proving to the whole team, and everyone, what he brings to the table," Cine said. "I'm real happy for him. I'm real happy about what he did out there."

Chandler called it his pro debut "a wonderful opportunity" he doesn't take for granted.

"I just thank God just being able to go out there and being able to compete," Chandler said. "I've got a lot of great teammates that push me to get better every day, so it's all about going out there, executing and having fun with it. It was just a blessing to be out there."

Chandler added being able to learn from the likes of Dalvin Cook, Mattison and Nwangwu in the running back room has been a great experience so far.

"We've got a lot of great guys in the running back room. I just enjoy being in there and getting a chance to learn from those guys," Chandler said. "Great offensive minds and guys that have been around the game for a long time in Dalvin, Mattison and Kene, it's great being able to learn from them and their experience and how they approach the game. It's been a blessing."