INDIANAPOLIS — Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell stopped just short on Tuesday from putting a "HELP WANTED" sign on Minnesota's underperforming backfield from last season.

Running back Alexander Mattison, who signed a two-year, $7 million contract last season, struggled to hold on to the football and the starting job after replacing Dalvin Cook. He was replaced by second-year running back Ty Chandler, who provided a jolt while starting the last four games.

The Vikings still finished with a below-average rushing attack in every meaningful category: rushing yardage (29th), rushing touchdowns (tied for last), rushing average (t-21st) and total carries (28th).

O'Connell on Tuesday praised Chandler as a "real positive," adding that Mattison ran hard.

He then said they're open to fresh legs.

"It's always a position that I think, you know, whether free agency or the draft, you're looking to continue to infuse talent and different skill sets," O'Connell said. "But [we] feel good about what those guys were able to do and, more importantly ... what we can build on from there, specifically with Ty toward the end of the season."

Mattison is under contract through next season, when he has $2.75 million fully guaranteed.

The Vikings have many items on their to-do list, including a new deal for receiver Justin Jefferson and possibly paying quarterback Kirk Cousins another extension. When they get to running back, this year's current free-agent backs form a star-studded group: Derrick Henry, Austin Ekeler, Tony Pollard, Josh Jacobs, Ezekiel Elliott and D'Andre Swift, among others.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said the Vikings "will take a look" when asked about the NFL running back market, which has recently been suppressed in terms of what top backs are getting paid.

"Just because they're a lower value position right now doesn't mean they don't provide a great impact," Adofo-Mensah said. "All it does is take one team, one deal to set a market and change things. I'm not going to say that's going to be this year, but there's a lot of exciting options on the market and we'll take a look at them like we take a look at every position."

Vikings add Josh McCown as QBs coach

The Vikings added former NFL quarterback Josh McCown as quarterbacks coach, the team announced on Tuesday. Chris O'Hara, who coached Vikings quarterbacks the last two seasons, has moved to passing game specialist.

It's unclear whether this is a promotion or demotion for O'Hara, who will presumably work with Vikings tight ends coach and pass game coordinator Brian Angelichio, as well as offensive coordinator Wes Phillips, who was previously the Rams pass game coordinator.

McCown, 44, enters his second season as quarterbacks coach. He first held the job last year in Carolina, where he coached with coordinator Thomas Brown, who is one of O'Connell's former Rams coworkers.

McCown, a 2002 third-round pick by the Cardinals, spent 19 seasons as an NFL quarterback. He's infamous in Minnesota fandom. In December 2003, McCown threw the 28-yard touchdown to Cardinals receiver Nate Poole that knocked the Vikings out of playoff contention and lifted the Packers into the playoffs.

New DL coach has the O'Connell connection

New Vikings defensive line coach Marcus Dixon, hired this month to replace Chris Rumph who left for a job at Clemson, has been on O'Connell's radar since he first took the Vikings job two years ago. Dixon and O'Connell have worked together as players and coaches, starting with their days in the Jets locker room in 2010 and 2011, and continuing with Dixon rejoining O'Connell in 2021 as a Rams assistant coach.

"You go in there and talk about your list of coaches you'd potentially like to have," O'Connell said, "and Marcus was always somebody I was always so excited to talk about. Not only from my time with him as a teammate, but then getting to be around him for that year we won the Super Bowl in L.A. ... He's been around some great coaches throughout his journey, and then getting to do it on his own and running his own room now for a couple years."

Dixon, a seven-year NFL defensive end, spent the last two seasons as Broncos defensive line coach under Nathaniel Hackett and Sean Payton.