By Kabrione Coleman, For Vikings.com
EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings running backs aim to improve and gain traction in the 2018 season.
After a torn ACL injury, Dalvin Cook is on track for a healthy return to the field. Latavius Murray, a 2015 Pro Bowl attendee, is returning after leading Minnesota with 842 yards and eight touchdowns last season. C.J. Ham is back after making an impact in his first season at fullback, and other players have an opportunity to compete for the third running back spot.
Returning Players: RB Mack Brown, RB Dalvin Cook, FB C.J. Ham, RB Latavius Murray
New Additions: RB Mike Boone, FB Johnny Stanton, RB Roc Thomas
Stat from 2017: The Vikings improved their rushing yards tremendously, from being ranked 32nd in the league with 75.3 yards per game in 2016, to being ranked 7th in the 2017 season with 122.3, an improvement of 47 yards per game.
From the Position Room: Vikings running back coach Kennedy Polamalu is entering his second season with the Vikings. He has seven years of coaching experience in the NFL with three different franchises.
In a recent interview with Vikings.com, Polamalu described how he feels about his group of guys.
"The number one thing I like is that they are really good teammates," Polamalu said. "They do things because they know they care about the other guys. They want to do it right. Not only on the field but off the field."
Polamalu also discussed evaluating players who are competing for the third running back spot, mentioning all of the tasks a running back must do beyond carrying the football. He noted that Mack Brown will benefit from a full offseason after joining the Vikings midseason a year ago.
"[I'm] always excited to coach these young men that are eager to get better," Polamalu said. "We didn't have Mack Brown last year, so he has a lot of work, and he's like a rookie because he hasn't been in the action. When you are in the action, everything moves fast, you have to think, you have to process, and it is nice to have Dalvin back doing that. Just instead of standing on the sideline and running, he's out there to see and process, seeing the safety rotation, seeing the linebacker blitz, seeing the three technique move on a run.
"Those are things that are valuable, and that's what Mike Boone has had an opportunity to do. He has had a lot of reps. It's a little different for Boone. The game moves a lot faster. To have those guys out there and learning, and then having Latavius, Dalvin and Hammer helping them, it's a really good room, and they are learning to be really good teammates."
"I'm still that same guy. You just have to pick up from where I left off. I'm just going out there and playing football. I'm still Dalvin Cook. I haven't left. The motivation is still there. The talent is still there, just a little older – that's it."
– Cook on returning from an ACL injury
"We have a long way to go until the season, and I think we both know that and we both have a good mindset about getting each other better and pushing each other, competing between one another — because I think when you have that competition in a room, it only brings out the best in the people in that room. I'll continue to take that approach and find ways to get better. I know he's going to push me to do that."
– Murray on teaming with Cook in Minnesota's backfield.