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Lunchbreak: Vikings Look to Get Running Game on Track

The Vikings will have their hands full Sunday against the Eagles, especially in the running game.

Minnesota's rushing attack, which ranks last in the league, will look to gain traction against a Philadelphia defense that leads the NFL by allowing just 63.8 yards per game.

Mark Craig of the Star Tribune recently wrote that Minnesota will face a tough task as it looks to be more balanced on offense.

Craig wrote:

The Vikings are last in rushing yards per game (63.0), 30th in yards per attempt (3.45) and have 16 fewer first downs rushing (26-10) than their opponents. Of course, it doesn't help that they called only four runs in a game in which they trailed the Bills 17-0 before running their seventh play.

The Vikings also are the only team in the league without a rushing touchdown or a player with 100 yards rushing for the season. Denver has two 200-yard rushers, while 11 individuals leaguewide have more yards rushing than the Vikings' team total of 252.

Asked if he has an offensive line that's physical enough to get the job done, Zimmer said, "Yes. It's about creating space and then trying to get to the second level."

Two injuries in particular have thwarted that. Leading rusher Dalvin Cook missed the Bills game, was limited against the Rams and didn't practice Wednesday. Meanwhile, center Pat Elflein, whose strengths include his agile second-level blocking, missed the first two games and will start for only the second time Sunday.

Cook leads the Vikings with 98 yards on 36 carries while fellow running back Latavius Murray has 64 yards on 19 attempts. Quarterback Kirk Cousins is third with 61 yards on 12 carries.

Minnesota is the only team in the league without a rushing touchdown.

Diggs, Thielen excelling in the slot

Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are versatile enough that they can line up anywhere on the field and be productive.

But it's in the slot where the Vikings wide receivers have flourished.

Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com recently wrote how the tandem of Diggs and Thielen has found so much success lining up inside of formations in Minnesota's diverse offense.

Coller wrote:

Thielen has been targeted 55 times, more than any other receiver in the NFL through four weeks. Cousins has 40 completions on those targets (72.2 percent completion percentage) for 473 yards and a QB rating of 110.6 when throwing Thielen's way.

While Diggs doesn't have quite as many targets, his efficiency is every bit as impressive. When throwing at Diggs, Cousins has gone 27-for-39 with 311 yards and a 118.6 rating.

Everything is coming together for the Cousins-Thielen/Diggs trio. The receivers are doing exactly what they've done for Sam Bradford and Case Keenum in the past: line up all over the field and get open constantly.

Thielen leads the NFL with 28 receptions when lining up in the slot, while Diggs has caught 9-of-9 passes in his direction out of the slot.

Thielen ranks second in the NFL with 40 catches for 473 yards and also has two touchdowns. Diggs has a team-high three scores on 27 catches for 311 yards.

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