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Notebook: Vikings Running Game Looks for Spark in Season's Final Stride

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — There are plenty of stats that sum up the state of the Vikings running game this season.

Most of them tell the tale of an unsatisfying season on the ground.

"It improved throughout the season, but we never really got it going," Viking running back Jerick McKinnon said of the run game. "There's been ups and downs this whole season, but us not being able to run the ball like we'd like to kind of hurt us.

"We just have to try and find ways to get better — myself, running backs, everybody. Just find ways to make things happen," he added. "This year we just didn't really get it going. It was kind of a weekly thing."

The Vikings have recorded just a single 100-yard game as a team, which came against the Giants. No running back has broken the 100-yard mark on his own.

Minnesota ranks last in the NFL in rushing yards per game (72.1) and yards per carry (3.1) and has just 1,081 rushing yards this season. Eight different players across the league have a higher total.

The most yards by an individual back this season were the 85 McKinnon picked up against the Giants. McKinnon leads the team with 450 rushing yards and has just one rushing touchdown.

Fellow running back Matt Asiata has the Vikings longest run of the season at 29 yards against the Eagles. Asiata has 388 rushing yards and a team-high six rushing touchdowns.

The Vikings have been hit by a number of injuries along the offensive line and have struggled to fill the shoes of Adrian Peterson, who has played in just three games this season.

Even Peterson, who has been ruled out for Sunday, hasn't been productive in game action, as the Vikings all-time leading rusher has 37 carries for 72 yards (1.9 yards per carry) and no touchdowns.

Despite the tumultuous season, McKinnon said he and his teammates will play for pride entering Sunday's game against the Bears.

"When I look back on the season, I'm proud of the way everybody fought through the ups and the downs," McKinnon said. "My main goal (in the season finale) is to win, and I know everyone in here wants to go out with a bang."

Another offensive line combination

The Vikings announced Friday that left guard Alex Boone is doubtful to play against Chicago.

That means Minnesota could line up its eighth different offensive line combination of the season on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. That's a stark turnaround from 2015, when the Vikings were the only team to use the same starting five linemen.

Boone had started 14 of 15 games this season, the highest total by any Vikings lineman.

Minnesota's starting offensive line last week was left tackle T.J. Clemmings, Boone, center Nick Easton, right guard Joe Berger and right tackle Jeremiah Sirles.

With Brandon Fusco returning to practice this week, he could slide back into his spot at right guard. Easton could start his fifth straight game, and the Vikings could potentially move Berger to left guard if Boone is unable to play.

The Vikings have had multiple starters at each position this season. Both tackle spots and left guard will have had three different starters at season's end, while two different players will have lined up at center and right guard.

Asked what has been the toughest challenge for the offensive line this season, Zimmer said, "Just consistency, working together, consistency."

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