EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Final decisions have yet to be made on Minnesota's offensive line, but Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur was pleased with a better performance from the unit against Seattle after struggling some at Buffalo in the first preseason game.
Shurmur told Twin Cities media members on Monday that he thought "the guys for the most part blocked the line of scrimmage pretty well." With the absence of left tackle Riley Reiff and left guard Pat Elflein due to injuries, the Vikings started Rashod Hill (LT), Nick Easton (LG), Pat Elflein (C), Nick Easton (RG) and Mike Remmers (RT).
"We got a bunch of twists, and those guys were in there playing pretty active," Shurmur said. "The protections were good. I thought early in the game, we ran the ball well. You could see guys getting to the second levels, so I thought they fought hard and they were active."
He said that Easton did a good job starting at guard after starting the previous week at center.
"He was very active in there, he moved his feet," Shurmur said. "He did a good job at getting to the second level, he did a good job in our screen game. But yet, he was physical enough to block on the line of scrimmage. He passed off a couple twists real well, so all the things you're looking for."
Here are four other topics covered by Shurmur in his podium session:
1. Still evaluating o-line
While Friday's performance was a positive one for the offensive line, Shurmur said the Vikings haven't completely finished evaluating the position. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer had said following the game that he hopes to have everyone back healthy to fully assess the situation.
"I think as we go through it, we're not really doing the math yet there," Shurmur said. "We're just trying to get everybody better."
He added that it remains to be seen "how it all plays out" on the interior of the line.
"We've got a couple more weeks. We're going to put the best five guys out there," Shurmur said. "What we want is a bunch of guys so it makes it a very tough decision for us. So we want a lot of guys in there that are playing well."
2. Cook combining coaching with ability
Dalvin Cook started at running back at Buffalo and Seattle, finishing at the latter with 40 rushing yards on seven carries. Cook also had one catch for 10 yards against the Seahawks.
Shurmur said Cook "displayed good vision" in his second NFL outing.
"He's trying to do what we're coaching him to do yet he's very natural in his ability to run the football," Shurmur said. "There were a couple seams he hit there that were pretty tight that became almost explosive runs.
"You see a guy that's disappointed when he doesn't make the safety miss," Shurmur added. "That's a good thing because one of those times when the safety does miss, that could be a touchdown. We've been impressed with what he's done. He continues to work and get better every day, that's what he needs to be doing."
When asked to compare Cook to former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, Shurmur said it's "hard to say" at this point in the rookie's career.
"I obviously was not around Adrian as much as other people, but he was a downhill, explosive type runner, one of the best of all time," Shurmur said. "We've got Dalvin here who's got the traits to be a really good football player, so we'll see how that plays out."
3. Expectations for Latavius
After being sidelined for OTAs, minicamp and most of training camp, free agency signee Latavius Murray has yet to be active for a preseason contest.
If Murray sees the field against the 49ers on Sunday, expectations from the Vikings coaching staff are that he gets re-acclimated to game speed.
"[We'll] just have to see what happens by the time we get to game day who's out there playing," Shurmur said. "When he's in the game, we just want him to play good, efficient football, run the ball and try to create explosive runs if he can, and when he's asked to pass protect to do the same thing. We want him to get in there and get his feet wet and get playing again. That's what we're looking for."
Comparing Murray to Cook, Shurmur said that both backs are capable of executing in a variety of situations.
"I think they both can play on all three downs," Shurmur said. "From a play-calling standpoint, that gives you great flexibility. It doesn't matter who's in there."
4. 'Impressed' by Case Keenum
Case Keenum has led the Vikings second-team offense in each of their first two preseason games.
After finishing at Buffalo 11-of-16 passing for 121 yards and a passer rating of 90.9, Keenum had another solid performance at Seattle. Against the Seahawks, he was 12-of-18 passing for 70 yards and a passer rating of 73.8.
Shurmur said that Keenum has done a good job thus far.
"I think he's really sort of impressed me here as we've gotten into the game situations," Shurmur said. "He's very engaged; you can tell he's a guy that's played a lot of football. He's been able to move the team. He does good things with his legs as far as moving around and extending plays."
5. Quarterback development always a priority
With the recent signing of former Golden Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner, the Vikings now have five quarterbacks on the roster: Kyle Rudolph, Keenum, Anthony Harris, Leidner and Stefon Diggs, who is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform List.
Shurmur said it's yet to be determined how many quarterbacks will be on Minnesota's final 53-man roster, but he emphasized the importance of developing all of their passers.
"You just never know how it's all going to play out," Shurmur said. "You just want to keep developing the quarterback position throughout the season and especially during training camp. So that if for some reason you need a guy, you have a guy ready to go. Again, the final roster decision is a couple weeks away, so we'll just have to wait and see."