Vikings running back Matt Asiata took on a large role in 2014, rushing for nine touchdowns and over 500 yards. This season, Asiata is listed further down on the depth chart at his position but he has still found a role and a way to be productive for the Vikings.
Head Coach Mike Zimmer has noticed Asiata's value to his team so far this season.
"I think Asiata is a good, tough runner that has good feet. I think he does a lot of good things for this football team and not just running the ball – pass protection." Zimmer said in his press conference Wednesday. "But when he's in, he usually has positive yards when he's rushing. That's the biggest thing."
1500 ESPN's Andrew Krammer took note that Asiata has carved out a role as the Vikings third down back in the past few games.
Matt Asiata* is listed as the third-string running back on the Vikings' 'unofficial' depth chart, but he's the one primarily replacing Adrian Peterson on third downs.
Asiata has carved out the role as the Vikings' third-down back over the last three weeks, a job that removes Peterson from the field -- gaining the Vikings important rest for their 30-year-old star -- while ensuring quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has the best protectors by his side on passing downs.*
*Peterson mostly took the role for the first two games, seeing 14 of 21 snaps on third downs, getting rest when the coaching staff subbed in a different back, Jerick McKinnon or Asiata, for chunks of a series.
But since the Vikings' Week 2 win over the Lions, Peterson has been on the field for just 10 of 42 third-down snaps, the other 32 going to Asiata, who saw a career-high in playing time on Sunday when taking the same field as Peterson. Most of the Vikings' work for running backs is scripted heading into a game, Zimmer said, meaning they've drawn up Asiata as the back for third downs.*
Blair Walsh has never seen 'Star Wars'
Vikings punter Jeff Locke and long snapper Kevin McDermott have already reserved seats to see the new Star Wars movie "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", according to Ben Goessling of ESPN.com.
One problem: another key member of the special teams unit hasn't seen any of the previous Star Wars movies.
Shortly after the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" trailer debuted at halftime of Monday Night Football two nights ago, *Minnesota Vikings punter Jeff Locke took to Twitter with the buoyancy of a seven-year-old kid.*
"Best. Christmas. Ever. #starwars," Locke tweeted. Now, he's working on turning his roommate into a fan.
Vikings kicker *Blair Walsh has never seen any of the six previous "Star Wars" films, and before he attends an opening weekend showing of "The Force Awakens" -- Locke has already reserved seats to an Imax 3D showing for Walsh, long snapper Kevin McDermott, McDermott's wife and himself -- he's seeing to it that Walsh gets caught up on the story.*
Not with all six episodes, though.
"I was telling Blair just to watch the originals (Episodes 4, 5 and 6). There's no need to watch the second trilogy, because he'll know what's happened," Locke said. "That's going to be part of my job over the next two months, educating Blair before we see the new one."
Vikings offense against Detroit
When the Vikings beat the Lions in Week 2, some of the key contributors on offense had their best games of the season. The Lions couldn't contain Adrian Peterson, who ran for a season-high 134 yards. Teddy Bridgewater showed poise in the pocket as he completed 14 of 18 passes and had a touchdown through the air and on a run.
The Star Tribune's Mark Craig wrote about how the Vikings will gladly take what Detroit has been giving other teams this season.
For those who have spent the past four days complaining about the Vikings offense, cheer up. Things could be worse. A lot worse.
Speaking of Detroit, the Lions are last in the league in turnover ratio (minus-8), giveaways (18), points allowed off turnovers (59), turnover points differential (minus-41) and, of course, the NFC North standings (1-5).
"They've had a bunch" of turnovers, said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer before adding, "hopefully, we can continue it."
The Lions are running away in the NFL's giveaway battle heading into Sunday's game against the Vikings at Ford Field. They're six ahead of Indianapolis and on pace for 48 turnovers, which would be the most the league has seen since the 2000 Chargers had 50 turnovers while finishing 1-15.
Jason Gonzalez of the Star Tribune gives a Vikings-Lions scouting report.
The Associated Press highlighted Captain Munnerlyn's second season in Minnesota.
John Holler of Viking Update featured the Vikings newest acquisition DT Kenrick Ellis.