Nick Mullens getting first start with Vikings Saturday at Cincinnati

The meeting was short, sweet and to the point for Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell and Nick Mullens.

Less than 48 hours after O’Connell called on Mullens to get the Vikings a 3-0 win at the Las Vegas Raiders, the two sat down at TCO Performance Center in Eagan. O’Connell was handing the keys to Minnesota’s offense to the veteran in his sixth NFL season. Mullens has made 17 career starts, but Saturday’s at Cincinnati will be his first with Minnesota.

"It’s exciting. You always want to get on the field, however that may be. So I’m excited, but the preparation doesn’t change too much," Mullens said Wednesday. "Try to stick to the routine, I like the routine that I’ve had in the past so I’m going to stick to it and be ready to play."

O’Connell likely had his mind made up before that meeting, but he wanted to gather the quarterbacks together on the decision before it went public. He went with Mullens with 9:10 to go at Las Vegas, and he went 9-of-13 for 83 yards, giving Greg Joseph a game-winning field goal attempt.

O’Connell had to do something. Joshua Dobbs was just 10-of-23 for 63 yards. He got sacked five times. Before the bye week, he threw four interceptions against the Chicago Bears. He’s lost fumbles, made mistakes at critical times.

It’s now Mullens’ time.

"It was pretty simple, he just told me I was starting and I was excited for the opportunity," Mullens said. "It’s not cool to start, it’s cool to start and play well so that’s the goal and that’s what we’re all working for."

Mullens will become the Vikings’ fourth starting quarterback this season. Kirk Cousins has a torn Achilles, and had Mullens not been on injured reserve with a back issue at the time, he likely fills in at Lambeau Field. Dobbs’ hot start has cooled off, and Jaren Hall hasn’t played a snap since going down with a concussion at Atlanta.

Mullens has leaned on Cousins this week. He’ll be making his first start since Week 15 of the 2021 season. He’s 5-12 for his career as a starter, but he probably gives the Vikings their best chance to beat the Bengals.

"He brings great energy talking football, talking life, talking Christmas cardigans that he’s been wearing. He brings great energy to the building," Mullens said of Cousins.

Mullens looked ready for his time at Las Vegas, even if it was unexpected. He now gets a full week with starter reps. He’s even been told by teammate Dalton Risner in the huddle to not be so loud calling plays.

"I’ve never been told to be quieter in the huddle before, so it kind of took me a second to get used to. I don’t think that’ll be the case this week," Mullens joked.


Ivan Pace Jr. was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after a team-high 13 tackles, one sack and the game-sealing interception against the Raiders. Pace came to the Vikings as an undrafted free agent, and now has the green dot calling plays after Jordan Hicks went down with compartment syndrome in his right leg.

Pace did not hide his confidence after Sunday’s win.

"Coming out, undrafted. I don’t know if any of y’all saw it, but I said ‘Y’all done F-d up when they didn’t draft me.' I’m showing them. I know I have that dog in me, it’s always been there," Pace said.


Vikings’ running back Alexander Mattison and offensive lineman Brian O’Neill were on the field Wednesday when the team held is portion of practice open to media. Both are dealing with ankle sprains.

If Mattison can’t play Saturday, Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu would share run duties. The offensive line would be down two starters if Ed Ingram is unable to return.