McKinnon put on weight while working with Adrian Peterson in the offseason, bulking up from 200 pounds to 211, Chris Tomasson of The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.
McKinnon hopes to replace Peterson as the team's lead runner, but such a role probably isn't in the cards after Minnesota signed Latavius Murray (ankle) to a three-year, $15 million contract and then drafted Dalvin Cook in the second round. McKinnon has been getting first-team snaps at OTAs, benefitting from Murray's recovery from surgery and Cook's inexperience. While he'll likely still factor into the offense in some capacity due to his speed and receiving ability, McKinnon seems least likely of the three to enter Week 1 in the lead role. He had a better opportunity last season but ended up averaging a paltry 3.4 yards per carry and 4.7 yards per target while splitting work with Matt Asiata.
McKinnon entered the offseason as Minnesota's starting running back but he's fallen to third on the depth chart after the team signed Latavius Murray in free agency and drafted Cook. McKinnon could still have a regular role if the Vikings use his flexibility as a receiver to move him around in two-running back sets. However, his fantasy value takes a significant hit with increased competition for touches.
McKinnon will be joined by free-agent signing Latavius Murray in the Minnesota backfield, 1500 ESPN Twin Cities reports.
After managing just 3.4 yards per carry in Adrian Peterson's absence last season, McKinnon had to know the team would bring in serious competition even if it chose not to keep Peterson around. Murray isn't the most talented runner, but he does offer versatility and has a better track record than McKinnon. The Vikings could still further upgrade their backfield through the upcoming draft, potentially giving McKinnon competition from multiple sources as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. Murray is the clear favorite to handle the lead back job.
McKinnon ran 16 times for 89 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's game against the Bears. He also caught three of four targets for an additional 21 yards and a score in the 38-10 win.
McKinnon managed just under five yards per carry and his running helped salt the game away after the team jumped out to an early lead. He opened the scoring with a 16-yard catch in the first quarter and found the end zone again on a one-yard conversion in the fourth. McKinnon showed flashes this season but was somewhat inefficient with an average of just 3.4 yards per carry and four total touchdowns. The Vikings will get Adrian Peterson back and presumably healthy next season, but McKinnon should again be in line to serve as the team's top backup.
McKinnon rushed 11 times for 50 yards and caught five of six targets for 35 yards Saturday against the Packers.
With Adrian Peterson (knee/groin) again sidelined, McKinnon operated as the Vikings' lead back Saturday, out-touching backfield complement Matt Asiata 16 to 9. However, there ultimately weren't many carries to go around with the Vikings playing in catch-up mode most of the day. McKinnon should find easier sledding next week against the Bears when the game script will likely be more conducive to an emphasis on running the ball.
|P1||8/10/17||@ BUF||7:00 pm|
|P2||8/18/17||@ SEA||10:00 pm|
|2||9/17/17||@ PIT||1:00 pm|
|5||10/9/17||@ CHI||8:30 pm|
|8||10/29/17||@ CLE||9:30 am|
|Bye: Week 9|
|10||11/12/17||@ WAS||1:00 pm|
|12||11/23/17||@ DET||12:30 pm|
|13||12/3/17||@ ATL||1:00 pm|
|14||12/10/17||@ CAR||1:00 pm|
|16||12/23/17||@ GB||8:30 pm|