MINNEAPOLIS - Dan Chisena once gave up his dream of playing football at Penn State to be on scholarship as a track athlete.
He joined the Minnesota Vikings this off-season as an undrafted college free agent. Saturday, his NFL dream was realized as he survived roster cuts and made the 53-man roster. There’s a chance he’ll be dressed and in uniform on Sunday when the Vikings host the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“I’m not one to kind of look around and go ‘Wow, here I am.’ You’ve got a job to do, you owe that to the team and the guys beside you. Super appreciative if that moment comes, but also if I’m out there, I’m out there for a reason and to get a job done,” Chisena said Monday.
If he does play, it will likely be on special teams. He’s been working most recently as a gunner on the punt team. He’ll take whatever role the coaching staff gives him if it means he’s on the field.
“We feel like he’s got a chance to be a premier special teams player. Hopefully he can get 20-25 snaps plays a game,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
“That’s a position where you just kind of get to play with your hair on fire,” Chisena said.
Chisena’s path to getting there has been anything but standard. He joined the Penn State football program in 2015 as a walk-on and redshirted. He wanted to play football and do track in the spring, but had to leave the football program to accept a track scholarship. He did that, then an injury his junior year made him re-evaluate things.
He wanted to give football one more shot, and James Franklin gave him that chance. After being on the scout team, he eventually earned a scholarship and spent his final college season playing special teams and getting snaps at receiver.
“An unbelievable experience,” Chisena said.
The Vikings did whatever they could to get him on the field at Training Camp. That includes a few days playing defense in the secondary, something Chisena says he hadn’t done since middle school.
He’ll take any chance he’s offered to get on the field. Chisena is one of seven receivers the Vikings kept on the roster.
“Just blessed to have this opportunity. God opens up some amazing doors and I’m super thankful for it,” Chisena said.
Dakota Dozier beats out Aviante Collins for offensive line spot
It appears Dakota Dozier is the last name to fill in on the Vikings’ offensive line for Sunday’s game against the Packers. That’s after Aviante Collins, his main competitor at the spot, was part of Saturday’s roster cuts before being placed on the practice squad.
Dozier made four starts last year, and will join Riley Reiff, Garrett Bradbury, Pat Elflein and Brian O’Neill as the likely five to be in charge of keeping Kirk Cousins upright.
“I’ve had a great training camp. It felt good, been battling with different guys but it felt good to have an opportunity and go out there and say that I’m capable of doing this,” Dozier said.
“I think he’s played with much more power than he has in the past. He’s a smart guy, understands the scheme. He’s been with Rico (Dennison) for three years now so that helps,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer doesn’t expect to have butterflies before hosting the Packers on Sunday, but he will be nervous. There’s no way to know if they’re prepared to face an opponent, much less do it in an empty stadium due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nonetheless, they’ll start an odd 2020 season against a division rival with a lot at stake early in the season.
“All games are the same, you want to go out and perform your best, you want your team go out and play their best and you hope that the things you’ve done to prepare the team to get them ready to play shows up,” Zimmer said.