Alexander Mattison is the Vikings' lead running back "and that will not change," coach Kevin O'Connell said Saturday. The Vikings coach also said second-year running back Ty Chandler is close to "taking that next step" in being a consistent option for the No. 2 role.

But the team still wanted to explore options by playing host to free agent Kareem Hunt on Friday at TCO Performance Center for a physical and some meetings. Hunt, the 28-year-old former Browns and Chiefs star, left Friday without a contract.

"Kwesi [Adofo-Mensah] has some history with him from Cleveland," O'Connell said. "Much like we've done in other scenarios, just trying to build a relationship, gain a little bit more information about that particular player, and maybe a potential fit."

Chandler drew strong reviews from O'Connell after taking 15 touches for 70 yards from scrimmage during Thursday night's preseason opener at Seattle. But the coach was asked Saturday about Chandler's consistency after O'Connell said he wants to see that "every single day" during practices.

"It has not been an issue," O'Connell said. "It would be unfair to — he's just in his second year. We're asking a lot of him.

"Ty has unbelievable physical talent," he added. "It's showing day in and day out that you can have ownership of it, to truly be trusted at any moment. Especially as that potentially No. 2-type back. It's not like you can control when Alex needs a [break]."

The team hasn't seen much behind Mattison and Chandler. Seventh-round draft pick DeWayne McBride is going through a "learning curve," O'Connell said. Third-year running back Kene Nwangwu has been sidelined about 10 days because of an undisclosed injury.

"Working through the last bit of discomfort," O'Connell said, "and hoping we get him back on the grass sooner rather than later."

Injury report

Linebacker Brian Asamoah, Nwangwu, wide receivers Jalen Nailor and Lucky Jackson, linebacker William Kwenkeu and defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy did not practice Saturday. Kwenkeu, whose arm was in a sling Saturday, exited Thursday's game because of a right shoulder injury.

Tight end T.J. Hockenson (illness) remains limited to warmups and individual drills.

Asamoah (undisclosed), the second-year defender, would've played Thursday if it had been a regular-season game, O'Connell said, but they were cautious "knowing how big this next week was." The Titans are in town for two joint practices and Saturday's exhibition.

Nailor (left leg) has been sidelined for over two weeks.

"It's been a little tricky," O'Connell said. "But I've been getting some positive news as of late. Hopefully he's turning the corner."

Receiver Trishton Jackson returned after thinking his season was over when he was carted off the practice field Aug. 1. But Jackson said he was diagnosed with bruised tendons in his right knee: "No tears or anything."

"We got a good group of doctors," Jackson said. "They calmed me down a lot, but it was definitely a scare. I just prayed and thanked God he answered my prayers."

Starters? 'TBD'

Only four of the Vikings' projected starters played at Seattle. O'Connell said he is leaving the door open for more starters playing in the remaining two exhibitions against the Titans and Cardinals. The Vikings also have two joint practices against each team, which O'Connell said will determine whether quarterback Kirk Cousins and others play.

Right guard Ed Ingram, a 2022 second-round pick who played every snap last season, was one of the few starters to play vs. the Seahawks. The team hosted free-agent veteran guard Dalton Risner at team headquarters earlier this month.

"He's still in his second year," O'Connell said of Ingram. "There were still some second-year players out there to make sure we do our part to get them primed and ready for the season. ... Graded out pretty well across the board. There were some communication issues that took place on a couple plays ... But there was also some really positive stuff."


• O'Connell said he wishes he would have challenged rookie receiver Jordan Addison's toe-dragging catch in the first quarter Thursday, which was ruled incomplete. The coach showed the play "in slow motion" during Saturday's team meeting. "It's really special," he said. "Would've loved to give him credit for that [in the game]."

• Edge rusher Danielle Hunter's sack incentives in his revised contract: $1 million for reaching 11 sacks; that increases to $2 million with 12½ sacks and $3 million with 14 sacks.

• Sen. Amy Klobuchar was a guest on the sideline at Saturday's practice.