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Lunchbreak: Latavius Murray Feeling Fresh Down Homestretch

Latavius Murray has reached the 1,000-yard mark once in his career, back in 2015 when he was with the Raiders. 

It remains to be seen if the Vikings running back will reach that milestone this season, but Murray said this week he feels he's playing at a higher level than two seasons ago.

Murray chatted with Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press and said that he likes where he's at as the Vikings head into the final month of the regular season.

Tomasson wrote:

Murray got off to a slow start in his first season with the Vikings, but there have been few complaints about his play lately. Over the past five games, Murray has rushed for 399 of his 496 yards on the season, including 179 in the past two games.

"I think so,'' Murray said Wednesday about being better than in 2015. "I think I'm continuing to get better each year. Each year I've been in the league, my goal has been to try to get better even if it's just a little bit, and I think I've been able to do that.''

Murray wasn't used much until rookie Dalvin Cook suffered a torn ACL in the third quarter against Detroit in Week 4. After Cook was hurt, Murray had just 59 yards in the next two games before breaking loose with 113 in Week 7 against Baltimore.

In the past two games, Murray had 95 yards against the Los Angeles Rams and 84 at Detroit.

"Latavius is running the ball well,'' said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. "I think he is starting to feel a lot more healthy or comfortable, whatever it is. He's continued to do a good job.''

Murray has helped a Vikings rank sixth overall in the NFL with 124.5 rushing yards per game. He has five rushes of 15-plus yards this season, including a season-long run of 46 yards that occurred in the Vikings Thanksgiving win in Detroit.

Elflein playing key role on Vikings offensive line

When the Vikings defensive line takes the field Sunday, they'll go up against one of the league's top centers in Alex Mack.

But when Atlanta's defense goes up against Minnesota's offense, Vikings center Pat Elflein will be more than able to hold his own, too.

Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com recently wrote that Elflein's play as a rookie has helped bring immediate improvement to a unit that struggled last season. 

Coller wrote:

Elflein has had a similar impact on his team's offense, which ranked 23rd in points last year and eighth this season. He's been a driver of the Vikings' short passing success, which was especially evident against the Lions when the Vikings gained 70 yards on throws behind the line of scrimmage.

"Pat is at the top of his game," quarterback Case Keenum said. "He's not playing like a rookie. He's getting us lined up, he's helping me, he's helping the offensive line, doing a great job of identifying fronts and pressures, not just pass-game protection, but run game as well. He's a great player."

The Vikings traded up in the third round to get Elflein. During training camp he battled with eventual left guard Nick Easton for the starting spot. Elflein's presence allowed offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to create an identity for the Vikings' offense. It also let them move quality interior veteran Joe Berger to right guard.

Elflein is the middle man on an offensive line that has given up just 12 sacks, which is tied for the fewest in the NFL.

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