Vikings Discover Standout Talent in Former Packer at Minicamp

Vikings Adjust Roster Amid Hockenson's Injury Rehabilitation.

by Faizan Chaudhary
Vikings Discover Standout Talent in Former Packer at Minicamp
© Justin Casterline/Getty Images

With the Minnesota Vikings potentially facing the early absence of two-time Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson due to injury, they may have already found their silver lining in newcomer Robert Tonyan. Previously with the Green Bay Packers and then the Chicago Bears, Tonyan has made a notable impression during the Vikings' minicamp, suggesting the team might weather Hockenson's absence smoothly.

According to Alec Lewis from The Athletic, Tonyan emerged as a standout performer last week at the Vikings' minicamp. "Robert Tonyan has looked great in minicamp," Lewis noted on X, highlighting Tonyan's remarkable ability to secure passes, particularly his agility and precision in the red-zone stretches.

His performance has been marked by reliable hands and athletic boundary plays that underscore his readiness for the upcoming season. Tonyan, 30, joins the Vikings on a value deal worth $1.125 million, with a mere $150,000 guaranteed, signalling a potentially high-reward acquisition for the team.

His tenure with the Packers was highlighted by a breakout 2020 season where he recorded 52 receptions for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns. However, an ACL injury in 2021 slowed his career, and subsequent limited use in Chicago last year saw him making just 11 catches across 17 games.

Tonyan's Early Spotlight

The Star Tribune's Ben Goessling anticipates that Hockenson's rehabilitation from a severe knee injury will sideline him through the first five games. The Vikings' early season bye week falls conveniently before they face the Detroit Lions, Hockenson’s former team.

This schedule sets the stage for Tonyan to showcase his pass-catching prowess more significantly in the early part of the season. In a roster lacking robust pass-catching options beyond Hockenson, Tonyan’s addition could be crucial.

The Vikings' other tight ends—Josh Oliver, Johnny Mundt, and Nick Muse—managed a combined total of 39 receptions for 385 yards and three touchdowns last season. Positioned alongside elite wide receiver talents like Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison, Tonyan has a golden opportunity to revitalize his career and potentially audition for a more prominent role either with the Vikings or elsewhere in the future.

Tonyan's journey through the NFL has been one of resilience and adaptation. As the 2024 season approaches, his ability to integrate into the Vikings' offensive strategy will be pivotal, particularly as the team navigates the early challenges posed by Hockenson’s injury.

Tonyan’s performance in the upcoming games could indeed turn him into a hidden gem for Minnesota, proving that even amidst setbacks, there are opportunities to be seized.