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Monday Morning Mailbag: Running Backs Shine Again Despite Absence of Cook

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Today was a good day. Irv Smith, Jr. is going to be special. Laquon Treadwell and Brandon Zylstra played well; that WR3 spot will be a war. My concern is how are we going to stop bootleg crossing routes on defense? It worked last year against us and it did tonight. Your thoughts?
-- Gerald Goblirsch

Without question, the wide receiver position battle(s) are intense right now. The offseason program began back in mid-April and we are more than halfway through August, yet a couple of spots on the wide receiver depth chart remain open. It will be fun to watch that unfold over the next 10 days or so. Treadwell and Zylstra definitely helped themselves on Sunday night, although both Chad Beebe and Bisi Johnson have put in good work before Sunday night, as well. As for the bootleg-crossing routes combo, I'd just say that the coverage needs to be tight and pass rushers need to get home. Pass defense is the marriage of rush and coverage, and you can't rely on only one of those aspects.

Should we be concerned that Dalvin Cook is sitting out preseason games or is it just precaution?
-- Emanuel

No. I know it's never fun to have player sit out, which the Vikings have done with Cook, Linval Joseph and Shamar Stephen. But discretion is sometimes the better form of valor and I believe that's what the Vikings are doing in those instances. I expect all three players to be ready to go for Week 1 of the regular season. We'll see if they get a few preseason reps next week against Arizona.

We have a serious QB2 battle on our hands! I want to talk about the RB2 position, though. I understand that Alexander Mattison is a 3rd-round pick and was chosen to take over for Latavius Murray, but Mike Boone needs consideration at RB2 immediately! Thoughts? Skol!
-- Jerry Provost

My thoughts are that the Vikings will probably wind up needing both running backs at some point during the season so it's less about which one is RB2 and which one is RB3 and it's more about getting both of them as many reps as you can right now so they are even more prepared for the regular season. Now, I'm not counting the race for RB3 over; Ameer Abdullah has flashed some potential in that role this spring and summer. But there's no question Boone has really helped himself the first two preseason games this summer and he has many believing he belongs on a roster.

I've literally heard absolutely nothing about Ben Gedeon this entire offseason and preseason. Is this a good or bad thing?
-- Jeffrey Hanson

In this case, it's a good thing. And believe me, if you asked the right people in the Vikings building, you'd hear a lot about Gedeon. He's a smart, tough player who knows where to line up and has a nose for the ball. At this point, it's fair to expect he'll be a starting linebacker in the Vikings base defense when the regular season opens.