Sam Bradford likes versatility of Minnesota Vikings running backs

By The Sports Xchange   |   Aug. 16, 2017 at 8:36 PM
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MANKATO, Minn. -- For the first time since 2006, this isn't Adrian Peterson's offense. Nor is it any other running back's offense.

It's a pass-oriented attack with West Coast schemes.

But that doesn't mean the corps of running backs on the Minnesota Vikings aren't up to par. In fact, quarterback Sam Bradford sounds like he would prefer the versatility offered by rookie Dalvin Cook and veterans Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon over the more one-dimensional Peterson.

"I think we have got a lot of really talented guys in that position group," Bradford said Wednesday. "Kind of like I said all spring, I think that's a group that we really feel like is a strength. Obviously, we've got some guys that can do a lot of different things, both when they're in the dot, when we're in the gun, some different styles of running that we can use.

"Then also just with their ability to be useful in the pass game, to be able to spread them out and empty, create some matchups with linebackers or just use them all over the backfield in some five-man protections and get them matched up with guys. We just feel like there's a lot of different things we can do with the guys we have in that room."

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The Vikings still have not lined up with the starting offensive line that they anticipate using in the regular-season opener on Sept. 11.

Left tackle Riley Reiff has missed most of camp and is just now starting to be worked in during team drills. And just as he returns, left guard Alex Boone has now missed practices this week.

Asked about the need for some continuity up front, Bradford gave the pros and cons of what's been going on up front so far.

"I think it is fairly important," he said. "I think it would be nice to kind of figure out who those five guys are going to be, just so I can work with them, so they can work with each other, and so the communication at the line can become better and become quicker.

"But, obviously though at that position, having been in the league, it seems like every year, there's a time during the year where guys are having to move around and play different positions and you have a different group in front of you. And I think the fact we are working some different guys in right now and they're getting used to playing with everyone, I think that can be beneficial as well. Just so if something does happen, we do have to make a change or someone has got to slide over, it's not the first time we've done that."

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Well, well, well. Look who's on the other side now.

The Vikings head to Seattle on Friday night to face the Seahawks and a kicker who infamously missed a 27-yard field goal to lose a playoff game against the Seahawks two seasons ago.

Former Vikings kicker Blair Walsh is now current Seahawk Blair Walsh. His 27-yard duck hook in the closing seconds of a wild-card game handed Seattle a 10-9 victory on a bitterly cold day in January of 2016.

The Vikings tried to rebuild Walsh's confidence in 2016, but never could get him over the hump from that playoff miscue. They cut Walsh last November after he missed four field goals and four extra points in nine games, including two instrumental misses in a Nov. 5 loss to Detroit. Walsh signed with Seattle in February.

"I was happy for him," Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said Wednesday. "I'll say hello to him (on Friday); I've got no ill will. I like Blair. He's a fine young man and we had four-and-a-half years together, so I've known him for a long time."

In his first game with the Seahawks, Walsh went 6-for-6 on PATs and hit two field-goal attempts from 42 and 28 yards. So maybe he has moved on mentally. Priefer hopes so.

"He did a lot of really good things here in Minnesota," Priefer said. "I know it didn't end well for him and for us a couple years ago, but at the end of the day, he's a very talented young man."

Notes: Left guard Alex Boone missed all three practices this week and won't play Friday night at Seattle. Boone, who had his left knee wrapped but didn't appear to be seriously injured, missed an opportunity to work with left tackle Riley Reiff this week. Reiff has been working back into team drills slowly as he recovers from a back injury that had sidelined him since the first day of camp. ... Cornerback Trae Waynes, who injured his shoulder on the first play of the preseason opener at Buffalo, did not practice this week and will not play at Seattle. Waynes has been groomed to take over the starting left corner job this season. With him out, the Vikings have turned back to longtime veteran Terence Newman. Newman played well last season, but the team is trying to limit his reps as he gets set to turn 39 on Sept. 4. ... Strong safety Andrew Sendejo missed practice this week and will not play at Seattle. With Sendejo out, the team has been taking rotating looks at injury-prone Antone Exum Jr., second-year pro Jayron Kearse and third-year pro Anthony Harris. Kearse is big and powerful, but still raw. Harris, who went undrafted out of Virginia, has become a leader on special teams. Exum missed all of last season because of an injury.

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Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell returned to practice after missing several days and the preseason opener because of a hamstring injury. He should be able to play Friday at Seattle. Last year's first-round draft pick needs to start proving he can stay healthy enough to contribute. Injuries played a big role in him having only one catch as a rookie. ... Defensive end Everson Griffen missed practice Tuesday, but returned Wednesday and participated. He could be rested Friday night. The Vikings know what they have in Griffen. The Pro Bowler is in peak condition and looks as fast as ever. He had a sack in the preseason opener at Buffalo.

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