Alexander Shun | @alexpshun
Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com
The 2017 season will be a new era of Minnesota Vikings football as, for the first time in 10 years, assumed future Hall-of-Fame running back Adrian Peterson will not be in the backfield donning the purple and gold jersey that he began his illustrious career in. Instead, newly-signed Latavius Murray will be the lead back and, entering his fourth year in the NFL, is ready to prove he can be a complete, every-down back.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer seems to agree with Murray.
"I think his big-play ability, being able to catch the ball, not having to substitute him on third downs, I think a lot of those are big for him," Zimmer said in speaking with KFAN's Paul Allen on Tuesday. "If we can get him to continue to break tackles and make some long runs, that's really what we're looking for."
Murray comes to the Vikings after spending the first three seasons of his career with the Oakland Raiders, during which time he amassed over 2,200 yards rushing, over 600 yards receiving and 20 total touchdowns
The 27-year old running back is an admitted upgrade over Peterson given Murray's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield as well as pass protect, things that Peterson struggled to do during his time in Minnesota.
Zimmer credited Murray's pass protection ability given all that a running back must do to complete such a task successfully.
"There are a couple elements to [pass protection] and number one is knowing where the pressure is coming from because typically the back has more than one guy in protection," Zimmer said. "And then he has to be able to step up in there and take on a linebacker or a big safety that's blitzing or something like that."
If Murray can live up to the 'hype' and find success in the Vikings' backfield, Minnesota could have a very good running back for the next couple years.