View the top 30 images of Vikings running backs from the 2014 season.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings filled an unexpected void at running back with a committee of players and by implementing clever plays involving receivers to help their rush attack in 2014.
Matt Asiata led the way with 164 carries for 570 yards and nine rushing touchdowns. Asiata tied with Kansas City's Jamaal Charles, Green Bay's Eddie Lacy, New Orleans' Mark Ingram and Cincinnati's Jeremy Hill for third-most rushing touchdowns in 2014, and he added a receiving TD and a pair of two-point conversions for 64 total points, which tied for ninth in the NFC and 18th in the NFL for non-kickers.
After rushing 21 times for 75 yards in the season opener, 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson was deactivated for Week 2 before being placed on the Commissioner's exempt list and later suspended by Roger Goodell until April 15, with conditional requirements pending.
Much speculation is likely to occur regarding Peterson's future, but Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said he thinks Peterson could "add value to any team" and multiple factors affect the situation.
"We would love to know (if Peterson will be reinstated) ASAP just so that we can start going," Zimmer said. "You know a guy like him, your football team and offense can be different if you have him and if you don't have him. It's how you want to build the team around him, at least in my opinion anyway."
Peterson's absence accelerated the opportunity for Jerick "Jet" McKinnon. The 2014 third-round draft pick carried the ball 113 times for 538 yards, including a 55-yarder against Atlanta when he rushed for 135 yards. McKinnon appeared in Minnesota's first 11 games, including six starts before suffering a back injury that required surgery and sidelined him for the rest of the season.
"I think I did a good job when I was in the game, and the coaches trust me now, and I'm just looking forward to getting back and seeing what happens," McKinnon said the day after the season ended when the Vikings cleaned out their lockers at Winter Park.
Minnesota finished 14th in the NFL in rushing with 112.8 yards per game, despite the loss of Peterson and the injury to McKinnon.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater finished as Minnesota's third-leading rusher with 209 yards and a touchdown on 47 rushes, and running back Joe Banyard logged his first rush attempts in the regular season, finishing with 21 carries for 88 yards.
The Vikings also implemented receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarius Wright in the rush attack with reverses and jet sweeps. Patterson had 10 rushes for 117 yards, including a 67-yard TD in the season opener when he set an NFL record for a receiver with 102 rushing yards in a game. Wright rushed five times for 71 yards.
Fullback Jerome Felton received his first carries as a Viking, including a career long 21-yarder at Buffalo, and safety Andrew Sendejo gained 48 yards on a fake punt at Chicago, the first time Minnesota had called a fake punt since 2004, which was also against the Bears.
Asiata finished second on the team in receptions with 44 catches for 312 yards. McKinnon had 27 catches for 135 yards, and Banyard added nine grabs for 62 yards.
An unsung stat of the position group is that running backs only fumbled the ball one time out of a combined 336 carries, and less conspicuous element of running back performance is the coaches' evaluation of their ability to help with pass protection.
Below are rushing stats for the Vikings in 2014: