I’m sure the Minnesota Vikings and third-year running back Dalvin Cook are excited to try and get a full NFL season under Cook’s belt. The Florida State alum has only played in 15 games throughout his two years in the league because of injury.
However, the Vikings had trusty-back Latavius Murray to take over when Cook went down. Now, Murray is a member of the New Orleans Saints and that leaves a backup opportunity for a running back.
Minnesota has three other backs that all have the potential to be a backup to Cook in fifth-year Ameer Abdullah, second-year Mike Boone and rookie Alexander Mattison. With that being said, it wouldn’t be a huge shocker to see a running back by committee behind Cook.
Two of the three aforementioned backs are unproven and will look to make a name for themselves. Mattison, the former Boise State Bronco will look to make a case after having a standout junior campaign in 2018. The five-foot-11-inch, 221 pound back won the Mountain West rushing title with 1,415 yards. Mattison was the first Bronco to claim the conference rushing title. Not to mention the other recent tail backs to come out of Boise State was Doug Martin and Jay Ajayi.
Shifty, slippery & explosive.— Vikings Memes (@SkolMemes) April 27, 2019
Alexander Mattison everyone. pic.twitter.com/SAwv9ecCI0
The All-Mountain West First Team running back’s 1,415 rushing yards was eighth in the nation. Mattison’s 17 rushing touchdowns was the most in the Mountain West and seventh in the FBS. He was also on the Doak Walker Award watch list. The award recognizes the best running back in the FBS. Mattison contributed to the passing game with 27 receptions for 173 yards.
The other unproven player is Mike Boone. Last season, as a rookie, he only saw 11 touches and managed 47 yards out of the deal. He’s also someone who had a solid collegiate career while at Cincinnati. Based off his stats you could consider Boone to be quite the gadget player.
Boone racked up 3,565 all-purpose yards throughout his four-years as a Bearcat. He had over 2,000 rushing yards, about 600 receiving yards and nearly 800 kick return yards. I could see Boone getting a larger workload than he saw last season. With the punt and kick return spot in question, Boone can try and slide into one of those spots for additional playing time.
Speaking of kick returns, that brings me to the most-NFL seasoned running back on the team in Abdullah. The fifth-year veteran is only 25 years old and had two decent seasons with the Detroit Lions in 2015 and 2017. In those two years he rushed for 1,149 yards off of 308 carries for six touchdowns. Abdullah also added 50 receptions for 345 yards and two touchdowns during those two seasons.
Abdullah handled 14 kick returns in his ten games in a Vikings uniform last season. He managed 365 yards and his longest was for 33. Abdullah will add his name to an already filled hat in terms of who will be handling kick returns. The real question is, will Abdullah still be on the 53-man roster when it comes down to it?
It would be pretty cool to see THIS Ameer:
Obviously second-year back Roc Thomas is still on the Vikings roster. However, because of the incident that he was involved in with cornerback Holton Hill, it’s unclear the status of his future with the Vikings. He was given probation, but the league has yet to put sanctions on him. Minnesota could also release him, if desired.
If I had to pick an order in which these players would go, it would probably be something like this: Cook would obviously start, I think it would be interesting to see Mattison and Boone split the backup role. I don’t see Abdullah getting cut, but if he wants any part of that backup role, he’ll have to show it during camp and the preseason.