Kevin O'Connell went back to football basics during practice this week in hopes of preventing his team from continuing to cough up fumbles at an all-time pace. The Minnesota Vikings lost a whopping six fumbles through the first two weeks of the season, the most by any team in 20 years. But if practice work with the poking stick pays off on the field, don't be surprised if the Vikings are far more secure with the ball in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
“The Vikings have lost six fumbles through the first two weeks of the season, the most by any NFL team in 20 years. So this week in practice, coach Kevin O'Connell was wielding this poking stick as part of a new ball security drill,” NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported. “Running back Alexander Mattison told me coaches were having players get their bodies in awkward positions, fall onto a pad, and then O'Connell and company would try to poke that thing loose, reminding players ‘keep it locked all the way to the ground.'”
The #Vikings are the first team in 20 years to lose six fumbles in their first two games. Here’s how Kevin O’Connell tried to fix it this week. (Yes, it involves a poking stick.) @NFLGameDay @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/33aYSzfXEC
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 24, 2023
Minnesota enters Week 3 with seven turnovers, most in the NFL. While the team's running backs are the apparent focus of its new ball-security efforts, Alexander Mattison and company aren't the only ones who have had trouble hanging onto the football. Cousins has lost three fumbles, and two others came from wide receivers. Mattison is the only running back to lose a fumble for the Vikings this season.
Regardless, expect everyone playing for Minnesota, 0-2 entering Sunday's action, to be extra careful with the ball against the Chargers and going forward.