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McKinnon On The Mend, Hillman Ready To Contribute For Vikings

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon said Friday that he is "feeling good" and hopes to play Monday night in Chicago.

McKinnon, who leads the Vikings with 68 carries for 217 yards and has one touchdown, suffered an ankle injury Sunday against the Eagles. He said he's been following orders from Director of Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman.

"I'm not trying to miss games," McKinnon said. "I've been doing whatever Sug' and the training staff have had me doing to make sure my ankle is getting stronger.

"The day after (a game) is probably the worst," he added. "It feels a lot better though."

McKinnon fared well against the Bears last season, catching four passes for 76 yards and a touchdown in a Week 15 home win.

"Last year when we beat Chicago here he had a crossing route where he went for about 30 yards and he had a screen where he went for about 30 yards," said Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner. "So he had 70 yards receiving. He hasn't had that game yet like he did a year ago, but we know he is capable."

If McKinnon does not play, running back Matt Asiata will likely get the bulk of the carries. But running back Ronnie Hillman, who signed with Minnesota in September, could also see an increase in opportunities.

Hillman, who was tackled for a loss of 6 yards on his first carry with the Vikings last week, said he's been learning the playbook and staying mentally sharp.

"It was good to get back out there and get back into it," Hillman said. "You haven't really gotten hit so you want to get those out of the way."

Turner said Hillman has made plenty of progress over the past five weeks.

"I think he's getting more and more comfortable with our offense," Turner said. "When you come in like he did you, he's inactive a couple weeks. You get a certain amount of reps.

"Now that he's active he's getting more reps. I think he has a good understanding of what we're doing," he added. "We know he's had success as a runner. I think he's getting to where he can contribute more."

The Vikings rank 30th in the league with 74.3 rushing yards per game but have recorded back-to-back games with at least 93 yards.

Turner and Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said there have been plenty of improvements in the run game of late.

"The run blocking has been pretty good," Zimmer said. "I was telling someone this before, obviously going into the season one of the things was to shore up the pass protection and things like that. I thought we did a good job.

"Now we've got some guys hurt, pass protection hasn't been nearly as good as it has been," he added. "The run blocking actually has kind of flipped. Beginning of the preseason, the run blocking was not very good I think because of some of the new things we've been doing. So now it's flipped a little bit. So now we just have to continue to work and continue to try and do some things."

Added Turner: "I expect us to continue to get better running the ball. As you know and we all saw, that line has moved around quite a bit. A big part of being successful is the offensive line and having continuity running the ball."

McKinnon said an improved running game will likely take pressure off quarterback Sam Bradford and Minnesota's passing attack.

"We've got to find a way to help out the passing game," McKinnon said. "Those guys have kind of gotten us to where we are (while) making plays on the perimeter. We've got to find a way to get it going with the run."

Strides in the secondary

Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards likes what he's seen from Xavier Rhodes thus far this season. During Edwards' podium session with Twin Cities media members on Friday, Edwards said Rhodes has done everything he's been asked to do. 

"We're excited [about] where he's at, and hopefully we'll continue to just keep getting better as the season progresses," Edwards said. "It looks like he feels comfortable in what we're asking him to do from a technique and fundamental part of it. He's been very productive for us thus far. So, we're excited moving forward with him and we just look for him to keep progressing."

Rhodes through four games has recorded two interceptions, six passes broken up and a forced fumble.

If there's anything Edwards would ask of Rhodes moving forward, it's to continue staying up to speed.

"Just making sure from week-to-week as we change different things schematically, involving him in different packages and just making sure he stays on top of those things, which he's done a good job of thus far," Edwards said. "So, just continuing to keep growing and understanding when to take chances and when not to take chances and those types of deals.

Edwards also offered an assessment of rookie safety Jayron Kearse, who subbed in for Andrew Sendejo at Philadelphia when Sendejo suffered an ankle injury early in the game. Edwards said that Kearse was "thrown into the fire" but still grasped what he needed to do defensively. In approaching Monday's game at Chicago, Edwards said Kearse has been preparing as if he'll be the starter.

"We're pleased with where he's at," Edwards said. "There's definitely a lot of things from an experience standpoint that he's learning from within us systematically. Just looking forward to going out there and playing full-speed with the technique and fundamentals that we've asked him to do."

View images from the Vikings Friday, Oct. 28 practice at Winter Park.

Injury reports

For the Vikings: Cordarrelle Patterson (concussion), Marcus Sherels (wrist), Jerick McKinnon (ankle), Andrew Sendejo (ankle), Sharrif Floyd (knee) and Zac Kerin (hand) did not participate. Audie Cole (finger), MyCole Pruitt (knee), and Jarius Wright (ankle) were limited. Alex Boone (shoulder/knee), Laquon Treadwell (thumb), Anthony Barr (ankle) and Jeremiah Sirles (knee) fully participated.

For the Bears: DB Bryce Callahan (hamstring), DT Eddie Goldman (ankle), DB Deiondre' Hall (ankle), G Kyle Long (tricep), WR Eddie Royal (toe) and LB Danny Trevathan (illness) did not participate. G Josh Sitton, RB Jeremy Langford (ankle), LB Pernell McPhee (knee), WR Cameron Meredith (shoulder) and DB Tracy Porter (knee) were limited. Nick Kwiatkowski (illness) fully participated Friday after missing Thursday.

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