Running back Jerick McKinnon has been thrust into a much larger role than anticipated during his rookie campaign but he hasn't appeared to be in over his head and has flashed big play potential.
Mark Craig of the Star Tribune notes the ability that third rounder possesses:
He's no Adrian Peterson. But Vikings rookie running back Jerick McKinnon does appear to possess at least one elite skill that certainly jumped off the screen during an 8-yard run early in the third quarter of Sunday's 19-13 overtime victory at Tampa Bay.
The Vikings were leading 3-0 and had just taken possession at their 37-yard line. Their mindset at that particular moment was as run-based as if No. 28 were still on the field.
"It was time for us to go in and knock the other team around a little bit," fullback Jerome Felton said.
Lined up deep in a power-I formation, McKinnon's target point was off the inside hip of left tackle Matt Kalil. Tight end Chase Ford was motioned right to left to provide extra muscle at the point of attack.
McKinnon got the handoff and headed for the line of scrimmage, but he never got to the target. Instead, he jabbed his left foot hard into the ground 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
"The play is designed to hit the front side," McKinnon said. "But if you get the defense overflowing, I got the freedom to cut back. You don't do it intentionally. It's one of those things you have to see and feel."
McKinnon is 5-9 and 208 pounds. He's fast and more powerful than he looks. And that sharp cut of his is the kind that attracts NFL scouts whether it belongs to the Heisman Trophy-winning tailback at Southern Cal or the triple-option quarterback at Georgia Southern, which McKinnon was before the Vikings selected him in the third round of the draft.
McKinnon has worked his way to carry a majority of the load at the running back position and you can expect to see a lot more of No. 31.
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