By every measure, Jerick McKinnon looked like the Minnesota Vikings running back poised to take over most of the duties in the wake of Dalvin Cook’s season-ending injury. The Vikings, however, sound as if their ready to take a hot-hand approach with McKinnon and nfl throwback jerseys and Latavius Murray.
In Monday’s win over the Vikings, Murray got the start and the early carries, but was ineffective, earning 12 totes for 31 yards. Then near the end of the half McKinnon earned more snaps, and caught a few passes. The Vikings stuck with the dual threat, who popped off a big touchdown run and wound up carrying the offensive load, with 146 scrimmage yards. McKinnon ended up doubling Murray in snaps by the end of the night.
Sure, part of that is on Robinson, but I tend to take up for him because it wasn’t his fault where he was drafted to or when he was selected in the first round. His college tape, a reel of aggressive downhill hits and thunderous blocks, shows a player useful in certain situations and raw in others. Detroit chose him as an emergency option for the injured Taylor Decker knowing what his strengths and weaknesses are. They’re trying to iron them out.
It would seem to be difficult to skate by in today’s NFL as a player who isn’t putting 100 percent into the craft. But the beauty of each Sunday is that players can start from zero again. Robinson is certainly the underdog against Griffen, who will most certainly get plenty of rushes in on the struggling tackle. Robinson also has the chance to prove Griffen wrong.
Cook exited early in the second quarter of his first NFL appearance after showing pile-pushing ability between the tackles and pass-catching acumen out of the backfield.
The early indications suggest we should see a heavy dose of Cook when the season opens, regardless of how healthy Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon are Week 1. There are still strides to make after Cook averaged just 2.6 yards per carry on five totes behind a struggling offensive line.
Bradford’s left knee has the injury history of a grizzled NFL veteran despite its 29 years thanks to a pair of torn ACLs. It’s a big part of the scouting dossier on the seventh-year pro, and it makes sense that the Vikings would play it safe with Bradford.
Still, it’s hard to bench a guy coming off a 346-yard, three-touchdown performance unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’ll be up to the Vikings’ offensive line, which tried to bury its 2016 demons with an impressive game versus the Saints, to ultimately give the protection Bradford needs to perform and stay healthy against a robust Pittsburgh pass rush.
Devil’s advocate: Spielman could have a difficult decision to make because Bradford played poorly behind an offensive line that still couldn’t block and Bridgewater is still recovering from his knee falling off in 2016.
The Vikings and Bradford weren’t engaged in significant contract talks this spring and it doesn’t appear as though one will happen during the season. Bridgewater’s contract could toll to next season if he ends up sitting out on the physically unable to perform list while rehabbing.
Joseph signed a five-year $31.5 million contract with Minnesota in 2014 after four years with the New York Giants.
At 6-foot-4, 329 pounds, the athletic Joseph is an immovable force in the middle of coach Mike Zimmer’s defense. In 2016, Joseph compiled a career-high 77 tackles and four sacks. He’s a pivotal spoke in the Minnesota interior as one of the best run-stuffing tackles in the NFL.