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Lunchbreak: PFF Ranks Vikings Backfield 7th Heading Into 2020 Season

The Vikings finished sixth in the NFL in rushing yards per game in 2019, averaging 133.3 yards each week on the ground.

That's a similar ranking to where Pro Football Focus has Minnesota's backfield heading into the 2020 season, as the analytics website recently slotted the Vikings at No. 7 on that list.

PFF writer Steve Palazzolo noted that the group, led by running back Dalvin Cook, should be among the league's most productive units again this season.

Palazzolo wrote:

Last season, Dalvin Cook showed what he's capable of when healthy, generating an 83.5 rushing grade that ranked fourth in the league during the regular season. He has one of the league's best combinations of power and burst, evident in his 4.5 yards per carry average over three years in the league. Cook is effective in the pass game, too, ranking second among running backs in screen yards in 2019. However, his eight drops and two fumbles marred his receiving grade for the year.

When healthy, Cook is right there with the top runners in the league. Behind him, 2019 third-rounder Alexander Mattison posted a 69.2 rushing grade and 4.6 yards per carry, while preseason sensation Mike Boone got into the action with 5.6 yards per carry on 49 attempts. The trio returns to give the Vikings one of the NFL's better backfields in 2020, led by Cook's big-play potential.

Cook rushed for a career-best 1,135 yards and scored 13 touchdowns in 2019, adding 53 receptions and 519 yards in the passing game on the way to his first Pro Bowl. Cook also made his first appearance on NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2020 list and landed at No. 21 overall.

Mattison was a 2019 third-round pick out of Boise State who showed plenty of flashes in his rookie year. He rushed for 462 yards and a score, hurdling over multiple defenders along the way.

Boone ran for 273 yards in his second season, 148 of which came in the season finale against Chicago when Minnesota rested the majority of its starters. He also had a pair of rushing touchdowns in Week 15 against the Chargers when Cook and Mattison left the game with injuries.

And while he wasn't mentioned by Palazzolo, Vikings fullback C.J. Ham is also a key piece of the Vikings backfield. The Minnesota native cleared defenders out of the way on the way to his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2019.

View photos of Vikings veteran players returning to TCO Performance Center to kick off 2020 training camp.

ESPN's Cronin offers 'bold prediction' for training camp

Verizon Vikings Training Camp is ramping up, as players have reported to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center for the first time since mid-January.

And while things may look a little bit different on and off the field due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a semblance of football will take shape soon.

That means roster battles and position breakdowns as players work to make the 53-man roster.

ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin recently offered a "bold prediction" for camp, and opined that she believes the team will add depth to its cornerback unit by signing Logan Ryan.

Ryan, who has spent the last seven seasons with New England and Tennessee, is currently a free agent.

Cronin wrote:

Minnesota needs a veteran presence among its crop of young defensive backs given the current most-experienced corner is Mike Hughes, who has played in a total of 20 games over the first two years of his career. Ryan will play nickel corner in the Vikings defense, thus allowing Hughes and first-round rookie Jeff Gladney to occupy both outside spots. Minnesota is operating with less than $10 million in cap space, and when the team inks an extension with running back Dalvin Cook (another bold prediction!), Ryan will end up taking a significant pay cut on a one-year prove-it deal.

Ryan has 17 career interceptions, four of which came in 2019 with the Titans. He also recorded four forced fumbles and 4.5 sacks this past season.

Hughes has played 20 career games with five starts, while Holton Hill has played 24 career games with four starts. Kris Boyd played in all 16 games as a rookie in 2019, the majority of which was on special teams.