Murray, who spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Raiders before signing with the Vikings early Thursday morning, said he’s aware of the obstacles the Vikings offensive line faced in 2016. Over 16 games, Minnesota started eight different combinations of linemen, with 12 different players seeing action on the line throughout the year.
“I just know that some unfortunate injuries happened last year,” Murray said during a conference call with Twin Cities media members Thursday.
Murray has experience with Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano, who was in Oakland during Murray’s first two seasons. Sparano served as the Raiders assistant head coach and offensive line coach in 2013; after Oakland started the 2014 season 0-4, Sparano was promoted to interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
“I’ve worked with Coach Sparano, and I trust in his process and getting the guys ready,” Murray said. “I haven’t met [the Vikings offensive linemen], but there are some guys there that they brought in and some guys that were already there and capable.
“Any year that’s a new year, you have to go in and put the work in,” Murray continued. “We’ll all get a crack at this thing next year, and that’s all that matters, and not what happened last year. That goes for, I’m sure that line, and that goes for me and my play. That’s the only thing we can focus on, just moving forward.”
A couple of hours prior to his conference call, Murray posted a photo on Instagram of himself and running back Adrian Peterson, whom Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman confirmed Thursday will not be re-signed by the Vikings for the 2017 season.
While Murray wore No. 28 both at Central Florida and in Oakland, he wrote in the social media post:
“There wasn’t a thought in my mind to try and wear or ask for the #28. I have too much respect for AP and so much respect for what he’s done and he means to this organization.”
Here’s the full post:
There wasn't a thought in my mind to try and wear or ask for the #28. I have too much respect for AP and so much respect for what he's done and what he means to this organization. Many people don't know, but I wore the #28 as a kid because of Fred Taylor who played for the Jaguars at the time. When AP came onto the scene and Fred retired, he was my reason for keeping #28. I want to say to Vikings fans: I'm not here to replace #28, he's irreplaceable. 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 #skol
Murray, who said he grew up watching and admiring Peterson, announced during his conference call that he will instead wear No. 25 for the Vikings. He chose the number in memory of his best friend, Jonathan Diaz, who passed away last November.
“That was one of his favorite numbers, so I’ll do that to remember him,” Murray said.
With a different number and different-colored jersey, Murray is excited for the next step in his NFL career.
Murray followed up a 1,000-yard performance in 2015 that earned him a Pro Bowl nod with a 2016 season in which he recorded fewer yards (766) but twice as many touchdowns, finding the end zone 12 times.
“Obviously I wish I would have had more yards on the ground, but I think you take into account also that we had two other young backs that played great for us and that ran the ball really well, so we had a good rushing attack,” Murray said. “And we were winning. So you can’t complain when you’re winning games – when you win 12 games and you’re in the postseason. I’ll always look to improve, and I’ll continue to bring that part to Minnesota.”
Murray is confident that he can bolster the Vikings offense.
“I just feel that I can come and run the ball, protect the quarterback, and also catch the ball out of the backfield,” Murray said. “Add weapons to the offense that already has weapons.”