Vikings rookie running back Jerick McKinnon had a break-out game yesterday, showing off his wheels while rushing for 135 yards in a 41-28 win over the Falcons. But today, head coach Mike Zimmer pumped the breaks a little bit on the notion that McKinnon is ready to be an every-down back.
Zimmer said that as a defensive-minded coach, he likes the challenge that a committee approach can pose to defenses. Besides, there are only a handful of true all-situation backs in today’s NFL.
Starter Matt Asiata is more of a physical, between-the-tackles runner. Meanwhile, McKinnon, a third-round pick in May’s NFL draft, has the quickness needed to get around the edge and the speed and shiftiness to be a big-play threat when he gets into the open field. But while McKinnon has some pass-catching skills, he is not polished when it comes to things like pass protection.
“I think he’s a change-of-pace back for us,” Zimmer said. “We’ll worry about next year [then]. I hope we can continue to grow his role but I don’t think he’s going to be an every-down player right now.”Vikes
Even before the Adrian Peterson child abuse case, there were rumors Peterson's cap hit was going to be too much to handle next season, so it's very possible McKinnon was drafted with the intent on playing a bigger role next season. As for this year, we'll see how he progresses against defenses that aren't the Falcons. Right now it looks like third-down duties and a change of pace back as part of a committee, but if he keeps putting up numbers it will be hard for the Vikes to not give him more work. For now, he's worth a pickup if you need RB help. While it's probably best to wait and see this week, we should get a good indication of where this RB committee stands against a much better defense in Green Bay Week 5.