Matt Asiata seemed like a bubble player after the Vikings spent a third round draft pick on running back Jerick McKinnon, but two days into camp and Asiata actually appears to have the upper hand over McKinnon in the competition for #2 RB behind Adrian Peterson.
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Asiata’s command of all facets of the running back position, the blocking and the receiving parts in particular, have impressed offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Turner also likes Asiata’s physical skills (via ESPN.com):
“He finished the season strong, he’s in great shape,” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. “He gives you that great pounder. He’s an excellent athlete, has good change of direction, a good pass protector. I know Jerick has got a lot of attention and I’ve said good things about him, but I think our backfield situation is in good shape.”
Norv’s plan is to have the offense run a higher number of plays this year than last, which will mean more overall reps for all the running backs. That makes the back-up position more important as the Vikings seek to find a reasonable limit for Adrian Peterson.
Jerick McKinnon will get his chances, possibly as a return man, but Matt Asiata seems to be the favorite as the third down back for Norv Turner. And that’s a little bit of a surprise.