With Peterson Out, Vikings’ McKinnon Steps Back Into Spotlight

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With the timetable for Adrian Peterson’s return uncertain after his surgery Thursday, the Vikings turn their hopeful eyes to some combination of Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, and maybe at some point, Ronnie Hillman.

Coach Mike Zimmer has said that McKinnon will be the starter.

So now, the third-year former college quarterback enters the spotlight.

In reality this is nothing new for McKinnon. He’s been there, done this before. Two years ago, when Adrian Peterson missed all but one game with legal trouble, the Vikings initially turned to Matt Asiata as the featured back, but after four games, McKinnon took over that role — and did it well.

Until he got hurt, and missed the final five games of the season.

But that was his rookie year. And two years later, McKinnon says he can’t wait to show how good he is now.

“Going into my third year is more confidence,” McKinnon said. “Everything is not new to me. I know what it takes to be a successful back in this league.”

McKinnon has always been used as a change of pace back – a shifty, speedy guy and a talented pass catcher. And he’ll certainly still cede goal-line carries to Asiata.

But he believes he’s become more versatile. And thus, more useful.

“I’m just excited to show the coaches, show the teammates, what I can bring to the table,” he said.

Certainly nobody is going to mistake McKinnon for Peterson, and McKinnon is well aware of the fact that he is not the former NFL MVP. But he certainly believes he can do enough to help the Vikings win anyway without him.

“We’re just looking for different ways just to find a way to win the game,” McKinnon said. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s not always going to look pretty, but as long as you come out on top you can live with it…. We’ve got to hold down the fort until he comes back. So the whole group of running backs, we’ve got to find a way to still make it work, and find a way to pick up where we left off.”

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