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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Jerick McKinnon is ready for any role, including receiver

By Matthew Coller

Whether it was struggles on the offensive line or scheme or chemistry with Sam Bradford, the Minnesota Vikings were not able to maximize the skills of Jerick McKinnon last season.

Now with Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray in the mix, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur can use his versatile playmaker in a number of ways, including at wide receiver. He has worked occasionally in the slot during training camp and could see more action there with Cook or Murray in the backfield.

“I’m comfortable with doing a lot of stuff,” McKinnon said. “It’s something I work on in the offseason. I work speed, agility, changing directions and I work on my routes as well. I’m pretty much ready for whatever they throw at me this year.”

The former third-round pick of the Vikings did flash his route-running ability in a big situation last season. On the final drive against the Dallas Cowboys, McKinnon lined up in the slot, ran a quick out and caught a touchdown that brought the Vikings within two points.

But overall he wasn’t often lined up as a receiver and he saw a drop from 8.2 Yards Per Catch in 2015 to 5.9 in 2016. When Bradford did throw McKinnon the ball past the line of scrimmage, he gained 7.1 YPC, but only averaged 4.3 YPC on dumpoffs or screens behind the line.

How the Vikings exactly will spread out snaps between Cook, Murray and McKinnon isn’t yet known – especially with Murray on the shelf while recovering from ankle surgery.

“I’m pretty sure all three of us are going to have a specific role,” McKinnon said. “I don’t know what it’s going to be. Closer to Week 1 we’ll have that talk.”

With more talent in the backfield, the Vikings are looking to make big strides from last year’s 32nd ranked run offense. McKinnon averaged 4.9 Yards Per Carry in his first two years, but just 3.4 YPC last season.

“Everybody has taken it as a challenge,” McKinnon said. “At practice we’ve been running the ball efficiently, doing things we can build off in the preseason games.”

The post Jerick McKinnon is ready for any role, including receiver appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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