Alexander Shun | @alexpshun
Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com
It's natural for an NFL player that recently signed to a new team to be, some would say, overly optimistic. In the case of new Minnesota Vikings running back Latavius Murray, not only is he providing the perfect amount of optimism but he is also being extremely realistic, and admittedly, that is quite refreshing.
For a Vikings team that ranked at or near the bottom of the league in every statistical rushing category for the entirety of the season, upgrading the offensive line and running back position was a must. Minnesota took care of their offensive line, signing two tackles, one of which was considered to be the second or third-best tackle available.
With a 'rebuilt' offensive line, the Vikings went about upgrading the running back position. It's hard to use the term 'upgrade' when the team's previous running back (Adrian Peterson) was one of the best backs in the league and is likely on his way to the Hall-of-Fame when his career is finally complete, but the Vikings did in fact upgrade their backfield. And while Murray may not believe that he will ever be near as good as Peterson once was, he does believe that he can improve the team's dismal running game.
"I just think that I can improve the run game," Murray said via conference call Thursday afternoon. "I know they had a hard time running the ball last year and I just feel that I can come and run the ball, protect the quarterback and also catch the ball out of the backfield. So I'll add a weapon to an offense that already has a bunch of weapons."
It may be hard for some Viking fans to acknowledge but Murray does in fact bring a new dynamic to Minnesota's backfield that they haven't had in quite a few years with Peterson.
All due respect to Peterson, but he struggled in two major areas of his game and that was in pass blocking and pass catching, two areas that Murray excels.
In 10 seasons with the Vikings, Peterson caught just 241 passes for 1,945 yards while Murray caught 91 passes - just under half as many - for 639 yards in his three years in Oakland. When it comes to pass protection, Pro Football Focus grades Murray as an average pass protector while Peterson graded out as below average.
By no means am I saying that Murray will be better than Peterson career-wise, but Peterson has/had been labeled at times as a 'one-trick pony' and Murray is much more than that.
"I want to say to Vikings fans: I'm not here to replace number 28, he's irreplaceable," Murray said. "I'm not here to be 28, there's no one like him. I ask that you accept me for the player I am and know that I'm here to give you all I got and to win."