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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Murray, McKinnon providing the ‘explosive’ plays Vikings thought they lost with Cook injury

By Matthew Coller

When rookie running back Dalvin Cook suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Week 4 against the Detroit Lions, it appeared the Minnesota Vikings’ offense would be a lot less dangerous.

On the day following Cook’s injury, head coach Mike Zimmer lamented losing the team’s most prominent big-play threat.

“I think the biggest thing was Dalvin had unbelievable big play ability in a lot of different ways,” Zimmer said on October 2. “We are going to have to continue to look for more ways to implement some big plays in the offense.”

Nearly three months later, the Vikings rank fourth in the NFL in rushes of more than 20 yards with 14, eight of which have come from the running back duo. McKinnon has added seven receptions of more than 20 yards and Murray picked up his first plus-20 catch on Sunday against the Bengals.

In total, the two backs have one-third of the total plays going for plus-20. It should come as no surprise that Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have 31 total explosive plays.

McKinnon’s big-play ability was on display Sunday as he picked up catches of 41 and 29 yards.

Overall, McKinnon and Murray have gained 1,652 yards from scrimmage, with 1,540 coming between Week 5 and Week 15. Quick math: The duo has averaged 154 yards from scrimmage per game since Cook’s injury.

To put that in context, the NFL’s leader in yards from scrimmage if Le’Veon Bell, who averages 132 per game. Only six running backs have gained over 100 per contest. The New Orleans Saints’ duo is the only one averaging more, with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram posting 196 yards per game.

McKinnon’s ability to make plays in the passing game has helped quarterback Case Keenum immensely. Of his 50 receptions, 25 have come on throws behind the line of scrimmage for an average of 6.4 yards per throw. He’s also caught 76.9 percent of throws in his direction.

Keenum averages 5.8 air yards per attempt, which is tied for the fourth lowest among QBs with more than 2,000 yards passing.

The combination of a mobile offensive line and offensive coordinator who understands his players’ skill sets have contributed greatly to the success of Murray and McKinnon in the Vikings’ offense. They are also evidence that teams can never have too much depth.

The post Murray, McKinnon providing the ‘explosive’ plays Vikings thought they lost with Cook injury appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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