Ty Chandler earned himself some recognition in the Pacific Northwest.
The Vikings running back impressed coaches and fans alike Thursday night, when the Vikings fell 24-13 to the Seahawks in the teams' first preseason game.
With Kene Nwangwu currently sidelined, Chandler embraced a full workload throughout the game's first half. He led Minnesota in carries with 11 for 41 yards and was second on the team in receiving, totaling four catches for 29 yards.
Chandler said he'd been preparing to have a full plate if that's what coaches asked of him; and though he sees plenty of room for improvement, he's happy with how the outing went.
"Oh, man. Just being able to take advantage of the opportunity when opportunities present themselves. This is what I've been working for," Chandler said postgame.
View game action photos from he Vikings vs. Seahawks preseason Week 1 game at Lumen Field.
The evening held even more meaning after Chandler played just three games as a rookie. The Vikings drafted Chandler in the fifth round in 2022, and he garnered some attention during the preseason last year, as well. But a thumb injury suffered in Week 5 landed him on Injured Reserve, and he didn't return to the field until Week 18.
"Quite honestly, it was just a blessing to be back out there and compete again. I was grateful for the opportunity," Chandler said. "Grateful to be able to go out there and execute."
The 25-year-old proved a reliable target for Nick Mullens, who on one drive spread the ball around to five different Vikings.
"Anytime you can run the ball, that leads to a productive offense," Mullens said. "So I thought the running backs, the o-line and the receivers did a great job of getting push up front, and when you can complement the run and the pass together, it usually creates success."
Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell concurred. He complimented Chandler, appreciating that he showed up "in live game action" and noting multiple positives from his performance.
"I really wanted to see Ty and what he can handle as far as all the phases of our offense," O'Connell said. "Calling plays for him here and there in the first half, I found myself wanting to get him touches – and that's always a good thing."
"His vision, his burst, his finish – it all showed up. And then his ability out of the backfield, either on a screen – even getting 4 or 5 on a screen that really wasn't well executed," O'Connell added. "He's making things happen. So when we can clean up our execution around him, you can start to project his impact. So, a really positive night for him."
Despite O'Connell mentioning a few plays that could have been better blocked for Chandler, the running back expressed nothing but trust for those around him.
"Big shout-out to [the offensive line] and everybody up front. Moving the line of scrimmage, controlling the line of scrimmage. Without them, I wouldn't have been able to do what I did," he said. "Big shout-out to them, just being able to get the ball downhill. That's what we focus on – getting downhill and running physical. I feel like we were able to do that."
Chandler was able to capitalize on plays, especially early on, that utilized larger personnel groupings with two tight ends.
"I love getting the ball downhill," he said. "Whatever Coach calls, [I want to execute]."
Chandler takes every part of the game seriously, whether the ball is in his hands or not. In Thursday's game, he demonstrated his capability in pass protection, helping keep Mullens from ever being sacked.
O'Connell said there "wasn't really anything that jumped out" during the game from Chandler's roll in pass protection which, in this instance, is a positive thing.
"We'll go back and watch the tape and say, 'Hey, what was the call? What was the communication like?' And then we'll be able to go back and get a clear assessment," O'Connell said. "But I thought for the most part, he seemed to be totally in the moment, and it wasn't too big for him."
Added Chandler: "You've gotta be able to protect the quarterback. I feel like I had a great night of doing that. … [But] I'm always looking forward to trying to better my game and take it to the next level."
O'Connell said his excitement about Chandler led him to want to call more and more plays for the running back.
"You know, you get so tempted in these games that, 'Hey, maybe we want to get Nick and Ty and some of these guys, maybe Jordan [Addison], to go one more drive,' " O'Connell said with a smile. "But you've gotta stay true to the plan and understand it's about the overall progression and our plan for our team."
For Chandler, part of that plan is to continue elevating his game as much as possible.
"Just watching film and getting better from that," he said. "Seeing what we can correct in the running back room and getting better as a group."