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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings face another tough running back matchup

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings’ schedule has pitted them up against some pretty impressive running backs.

In Week 1, the Vikings’ defense slowed down Mark Ingram, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry last season, and dynamic rookie Alvin Kamara (and Adrian Peterson), then they allowed just 3.2 yards per carry to Le’Veon Bell.

Last week, the Lions’ tandem of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick combined for 24 rushes for 98 yards and four receptions for 23 yards.

On Monday night, the Vikings will take on one of the league’s most productive duos over the first four weeks in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. The two have combined for 663 yards from scrimmage.

“Howard is the lead back in the running game,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said. “He’s the physical down-hill kind of runner, very good at point of contact, gets his shoulders low, but he’s in the passing game some too.”

Howard, who rushed for 153 yards against the Vikings last season, is averaging 63 yards per game at 4.0 yards per clip. Those numbers are down from last season’s 87 per game and 5.2 yards per carry.

But Cohen’s role has made Howard more of the ground-and-pound back. On 30 rushes, Cohen averages 6.0 yards per carry and he’s grabbed 24 passes out of the backfield.

“He’s a scat back guy,” Zimmer said. “They run the normal plays with him but he could bounce the ball pretty much anywhere. Catches the ball well out of the backfield, good returner, they line him up as receiver sometimes, they line him up in the backfield, there’s a lot of different things that they do with him.”

The Cohen-Howard combo has made up most of Chicago’s offensive production. The next highest player in yards from scrimmage is receiver Kendall Wright, who has only 154 yards.

Chicago’s running game gave the Vikings fits at soldier field last year, rushing for 153 yards, including a 69-yard carry on the opening drive.

The Bears are likely to rely heavily on their running game against the Vikings as they will start rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky for the first time.

The post Vikings face another tough running back matchup appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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