Former Tar Heel Ty Chandler set to have increased role down the stretch.

Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell says former UNC football running back Ty Chandler will have a bigger role as the team inches closer to postseason contention.

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings
Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings / David Berding/GettyImages

After starting the year as the third running back on the depth chart, former UNC football player Ty Chandler has emerged as the premiere back for the Minnesota Vikings. Chandler was thrusted into action after Cam Akers tore his Achillies and Alexander Mattison dealt with fumble issues earlier in the season.

Chandler has 72 carries for 335 yards and two touchdowns on the season. Alexander Mattison leads the team in rushing yards with 660 due to the fact that he has 96 more carries than Chandler. Chandler leads the Vikings in yards-per-attempt with 4.7 in 2023.

Alexander Mattison was the starter out of training camp, but problems holding onto the ball and an ankle injury caused him to miss time. Mattison missed the team's game on Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals with that ankle injury, allowing Ty Chandler to make his first start of the season. Chandler had a breakout game, setting career highs in carries with 23 and yards 132. He also found the endzone for the second time in his young career.

Chandler's strong performance prompted head coach Kevin O'Connell to make a key decision heading into their week 16 matchup against the Detroit Lions. Coach O'Connell named Chandler as the featured back ahead of a crucial division matchup.

Chandler started his collegiate career with the Tennessee football program and played there from 2017-2020. He rushed for 2,015 yards in 45 games and ranks fifth in Tennessee football history in all-purpose yards with 3,245. Chandler recorded 17 total touchdowns, and his 724 kickoff return yards are the 14th-most in Tennessee history.

Chandler arrived in Chapel Hill prior to the 2021 season as a graduate-transfer. In 13 starts, Chandler was named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List and rushed for 1,092 yards on the season.

Fans of the UNC football program should be pleased with how former Tar Heels are performing in the NFL. Former Tar Heel quarterback Sam Howell ranks seventh in the NFL with 3,568 yards in 2023 in his first year as the starter. Ty Chandler will look to make an impact down the stretch as the Minnesota Vikings fight for a wildcard spot.

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