Jerick McKinnon entered December with not only a spot near the front of the NFL’s rookie rushing ranks, but also a painful lower back injury.
While many of his teammates headed home after the season or to exotic locales much warmer than Minnesota, the Georgia native has stayed in the Twin Cities so he can rehab his injury at Winter Park with the team’s athletic training staff. He has only a couple more weeks left before the process is completed.
“It’s been pretty good. It’s been a long process, but that’s just the way it goes after surgery. I’ve been here all offseason working really hard,” McKinnon said last week in a phone interview. “I’ve just been in the training room with [assistant athletic trainer] Tom Hunkele pushing myself to the limit and just trying to get back ready. It’s been a long grind but it’s definitely working.”
There have been no setbacks, and McKinnon says he will be ready to participate without any limitations in the offseason workout program, which can begin April 20.
McKinnon was the team’s primary runner from Week 4 to Week 12, averaging 81.5 yards on 16.4 touches per game. During that span, he was the #25 RB in standard formats and #20 in PPR. However, he failed to score a touchdown while Matt Asiata found the endzone 10 times. Asiata is a restricted free agent, so he should be back in 2015. Adrian Peterson is also under contract, but his future in Minnesota is cloudy. If Peterson leaves town and McKinnon enters the season as the team’s primary back, then low-end RB2 numbers are within reach.