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Notebook: Murray Staying Mentally Sharp Through OTAs

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Latavius Murray has been in attendance at every Organized Team Activity practice this spring, even if the Vikings running back can't take part in the action.

Murray, who signed with the Vikings as a free agent in March, is currently sidelined after having ankle surgery earlier this spring.

Still, Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur said he likes what Murray has brought to the team, especially in the classroom during film work.

"He's extremely sharp, he's got good questions," Shurmur said. "He's right there with us mentally, he just can't do it yet physically.

"We just need to see him get in there and do it and do all the things you need to see a running back do – run the ball, pass protect, and then certainly catch it when you throw it him," Shurmur added.

Murray, who is entering his fifth professional season, had 195 carries for 788 yards and a career-high 12 touchdowns for the Oakland Raiders in 2016.

A sixth-round draft pick in 2013, Murray has 543 career carries for 2,278 yards and 20 touchdowns.* *

The 27-year-old has five career 100-yard games on the ground. He also has 91 career catches for 639 yards.* *

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Floyd on the mend

Vikings defensive tackle Danielle Hunter spoke to the media for the first time this spring and said he is working tirelessly to get back on the field. 

Floyd played in Minnesota's season-opening win at Tennessee in 2016 but missed the rest of the season and has yet to practice during OTAs due to knee issues.

"I feel like progress is being made," Floyd said. "It's taking its sweet old time.

"Just working out and training. Nothing more I can do," Floyd later added. "I'm taking care of everything that's in my power and controlling what I can control."

The former first-round pick said he is optimistic that he can return to the field and make an impact on defense this season. 

"It might be a little too early to say, but I feel like I'm going to be there," Floyd said. "I want to be there with my guys. But it's out of my control, I'm just taking care of (myself).

"Things are going to happen whenever they happen, hopefully everything will happen in a good way," he added.

Floyd has 95 total career tackles with 9.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

"This situation definitely humbled me," Floyd said. "It can be taken from you at any moment so I'm just looking to get back out there and enjoy the game that I love so dearly."

McKinnon embracing competition at running back

Jerick McKinnon led the Vikings in rushing last season with 539 yards, but the fourth-year running back knows he's going to have to earn his keep in 2017.

Besides adding Murray in free agency, the Vikings also drafted Dalvin Cook in the second round in April's draft. 

McKinnon, a third-round pick in 2014, said he's embracing the new faces in the running back room.

"Latavius went to the Pro Bowl (in 2015) and has already made a name for himself," McKinnon said. "So I'm excited to work with both of those guys and see how my game stacks up against theirs."

McKinnon has 324 career carries for 1,348 yards with four touchdowns.

Elflein focused on mental aspect of OTAs

Vikings center Pat Elflein played in the rugged Big Ten in college and won the Rimington Award in 2016 as the nation's best center.

But the 2017 third-round pick isn't worried about how he'll stack up physically in the NFL. Instead, he's honed in on picking up the little details in meetings and on the practice field.

"You've got to be on the same page. At this level there's a lot more ins and outs of the game, little stuff," Elflein said. "We're all professionals, and we have to be on point every single day with the little stuff.

"Everyone is here for a reason," Elflein later added. "Physically, you've got gifts and that's what you're here. But the mental part is very tedious and you have to be on it all the time, especially at center."

Elflein, who played collegiately at Ohio State, has lined up as the second-team center through the first five OTA practices.

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