"If A.P. comes back, there's no doubt he's going to be the starter," McKinnon said. "But it's not going to change my mind-set or how I approach things or how I work. Whatever they do, my mind-set is to come in and be that guy next year.
"There's no doubt in my mind I can last the season," McKinnon said. "If that's something I have to prove, that's not a big deal for me. I'll prove it this year. I'm just really excited to get back out there with my teammates and coaches and show how far I've come since surgery."
McKinnon, 22, underwent back surgery in early December that cut his rookie season short. In 2014, he rushed for 538 yards on 113 attempts through 11 games.
"It's been pretty good. It's been a long process, but that's just the way it goes after surgery. I've been here all offseason working really hard," McKinnon said to the Star Tribune. "I've just been in the training room with [assistant athletic trainer] Tom Hunkele pushing myself to the limit and just trying to get back ready. It’s been a long grind but it’s definitely working."
McKinnon is expected to be ready for offseason workouts, beginning in April.
He averaged 4.8 yards per carry as a rookie in 2014, totaling 538 rushing yards on 113 carries. He also had 27 catches for 135 yards, but was unable to record a touchdown either rushing or receiving.
Running backs coach Kirby Wilson said Friday he feels McKinnon can be a featured back in the NFL, and he could be the team's primary running back in 2015, if Adrian Peterson doesn't return next season.
"I can’t really say what’s going to happen," McKinnon said. "Nobody knows. It’s the NFL, things change. All I can do is work hard and come OTAs, come back out here and compete and show the coaches I can still do what I can."
McKinnon averaged 4.8 yards per carry as a rookie in 2014, totaling 538 rushing yards on 113 carries. He also had 27 catches for 135 yards, but he has no rushing or receiving touchdowns.
The Vikings already placed McKinnon on IR and the procedure is expected to keep him out for at least eight weeks. He is expected to be ready to begin full workouts when the offseason begins.
In 2014, McKinnon rushed for 538 yards on 113 attempts through 11 games.
McKinnon rose to the occasion after Minnesota lost Adrian Peterson and established himself as the primary back. He currently leads the team in carries (113), rushing yards (538), and yards per carry average (4.8). According to the Star-Tribune, McKinnon tweaked his back while lifting weights at the team facility in mid-November.
The Vikings will now turn to Matt Asiata, Joe Banyard and Ben Tate for the final four games of the season.
Harrison Smith Minnesota Vikings Nike Team Color Limited Jersey - Purple Shop Now!