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Presser Points: Zimmer on Vikings Running Game

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —The Vikings lost to the Seahawks 20-13 on Friday in Seattle but might have gained ground in the running game.

Rookie Dalvin Cook rushed seven times for 40 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry, a week after he was limited to 13 yards on five carries in Buffalo.

After the Vikings returned to practice Sunday, Head Coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings "did some good things offensively, especially early."

"We had some creases in there for the [running] back [Dalvin Cook], and he made some nice acceleration through some small holes, picked his feet up well and ran with power," Zimmer said.

Cook ran behind the offensive line combination of Rashod Hill at left tackle, Nick Easton at left guard, Pat Elflein at center, Nick Easton at right guard and Mike Remmers at right tackle.

Jerick McKinnon missed the Buffalo game and only had one carry for a loss of 6 in his first game action of 2017. The Vikings haven't been able to play free-agent addition Latavius Murray in a game yet, but Zimmer thinks the former Pro Bowler with the Raiders will add a nice element. Zimmer said he liked a play by Murray during Sunday's practice.

"He's kind of a slasher, runs with power," Zimmer said. "We had a play down there in the goal line today when he saw the cut that he had to make he lowered his pads and accelerated into the tackler, which I thought was good. Things like that. He catches the ball good, protects."

Here are four other topics addressed by Zimmer:

1. Trial and error

The exhibition nature of preseason games, compared to a 16-game regular season, allows teams to try new things without the stakes being too high.

It also might lead to some anomalies.

Conspicuously, the Vikings surrendered several long pass plays to Russell Wilson and Seahawks receivers, who averaged 14.1 yards per reception. That average is about 4 yards more than any full-season tally for the Vikings since Zimmer's arrival in 2014.

"We got to do better in the coverage aspect," Zimmer said. "We had, I think, two or three twenty-yard or more plays, so that's going to be a big point of emphasis for us. We were working on some different coverages in that game."

2. Rookies' reaction time

The Vikings turned over the opening kickoff of the second half when a fumble by Danny Isidora was recovered at the Minnesota 18-yard line.

Young players responded to the bell. Undrafted rookie Tashawn Bower sacked Trevone Boykin for a loss of 10 on the next snap, and seventh-round pick Ifeadi Odenigbo sacked Boykin for a loss of 6 two plays later to force a 52-yard field goal.

Fellow rookie Jaleel Johnson, a fourth-round pick, also **made an impact in the backfield** with a pair of tackles for loss in the fourth quarter.

"These young defensive linemen are doing a good job," Zimmer said. "I thought Jaleel Johnson played well, [Tashawn] Bower had another good day. Ifeadi [Odenigbo], Big O – that's what we call him, I thought he did some good things too. So, those three guys, they've kind of stepped up." 

3. Assessing Gedeon's start

Ben Gedeon drew the honors to start at weakside linebacker, the spot formerly held by Chad Greenway.

Zimmer said the rookie "did a lot of good things" but also experienced some teachable moments.

"He's a football player, he finds the football, gets off the block, he had a couple that weren't great and he had a couple misfits," Zimmer said. "The one ball down the middle, that was him, but he'll get better in those things. We spent a lot of time with the coverage part of it today with those guys."

View exclusive images shot by the team photographer (IG: vikingsphotog) from the Aug. 18 game against the Seahawks.

4. No place like home

Zimmer and the Vikings are one week away from hosting the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football. After back-to-back road games, including the Vikings second-farthest scheduled away city (behind London), the team is ready for the second season at U.S. Bank Stadium.

"It will be good to get back home, get back to U.S. Bank Stadium in front of our fans for a little bit after being on the road for a couple of weeks," Zimmer said.

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