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Vikings Have Confidence in McKinnon, Asiata

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — With Vikings running back Adrian Peterson out for an unknown amount of time with a torn meniscus, it's a next-man-up mentality in Minnesota.

That means an expanded role for running backs Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata.

Teammates voiced their support and confidence for the duo.

"I think Jet is going to do a great job. I think Jet is a hell of a runner," Vikings left guard Alex Boone said of McKinnon. "He puts his foot in the ground and gets downhill.

"I feel bad for people that have to tackle him. Asiata, the same way," he added. "This is a good group, and I'm very confident going forward that we're going to be fine."

McKinnon, who will start Sunday, is averaging nearly 5.0 yards per carry in his career and has 812 career rushing yards with a pair of touchdowns. Asiata has 884 career rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, nine of which came during in 2014.

Vikings fullback Zach Line pointed to that 2014 season, when Peterson played just one game and McKinnon and Asiata took over in his absence.

The pair combined to rush for 1,108 yards and nine touchdowns that season. McKinnon is known for his elusiveness while Asiata is a load to bring down. 

"They're kind of a two-punch combo, you've got speed and power right there," Line said. "I think they both have the ability to do every job or every play in this offense.

"I think you saw those guys really flourish a couple years ago," Line added. "I don't think anything has changed, except they're probably more well-rounded now."

Even Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera, who spoke with the Twin Cities media Wednesday, said he expects the Vikings to stick with their offensive game plan Sunday in Charlotte.

"Some of the answers are right on their roster," Rivera said of dealing with injuries. "Jerick McKinnon has proved to be as solid a running back as anybody, and Matt Asiata has done a nice job.

"It's not like they don't have players over there," he added. "It's a good football team, and they have good players in their locker room."

Line said it'll be up to everyone to help boost a rushing attach that has just 95 yards on 50 carries and no touchdowns through two games.

Line added that the Vikings will keep chipping away, even if it means going up against an extra defender or two near the line of scrimmage.

"It's something we've got to get rolling," Line said of the ground game. "We pride ourselves on being able to pound the rock and we have to get that rolling.

"It's obviously tougher when teams pack the box for our run game, but we've got to find ways around it," he added. "Because once you break through that box it's pretty open."

The Vikings announced the **signing of running back** Ronnie Hillman and the placement of left tackle Matt Kalil on **injured reserve** on Wednesday.

Peterson is scheduled to have surgery on his knee on Thursday.

Diggs named NFC Offensive Player of the Week

Another week, another honor for the Vikings.

Wide receiver Stefon Diggs was named the **NFC Offensive Player of the Week** on Wednesday after his standout performance in Week 2 on Sunday Night Football.

Diggs set single-game highs with nine catches for 182 yards and also added a touchdown in a 17-14 win over Green Bay. Diggs leads the NFL with 285 receiving yards.

Diggs is the ninth Viking to win a weekly award since Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer joined the franchise in 2014, a span of 35 games. Linebacker Eric Kendricks won the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award after a Week 1 win against the Titans.

Keeping tabs on Teddy

It's been a busy 22 days for Vikings quarterbacks coach Scott Turner.

When Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season with a knee injury during an Aug. 30 practice, Turner escalated prep work with veteran Shaun Hill, who started and won against Tennessee on Sept. 11.

He's also been deeply involved in **cram sessions*** *with Sam Bradford, who was acquired in a trade with Philadelphia on Sept. 3. The Vikings needed to prep Bradford in case Hill went down against the Titans and then gauge his readiness to start Sunday against the Packers.

In the midst of it all, he's also checked on Bridgewater during the third-year pro's rehabilitation process.

Turner relayed an anecdote to "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen in a segment that will air at 6:30 tonight on **KFAN 100.3-FM** about how Bridgewater is keeping tabs on the team.

"I talk to Teddy a few times a week. Players were off (Tuesday), so when he was doing rehab I went and sat with him," Turner said. "He's watching and keeping up with what we're doing. He's been watching the practice film on his iPad. He was talking about one of the plays in the game that it was a play that Sam had checked down to in practice, so I kind of laughed about that. He's doing well, and everything went well with the surgery."

Injury report

The first injury report of the week has been published.

For the Vikings: Adrian Peterson (knee) and Sharrif Floyd (knee) did not participate. Kyle Rudolph (groin), Danielle Hunter (knee), Eric Kendricks (ankle), Xavier Rhodes (knee) and MyCole Pruitt (knee) were limited. Zach Line (neck) and Jerick McKinnon (toe).

For the Panthers: Jeremy Cash (hamstring), Kawann Short (shoulder), Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) and Trai Turner (ankle) did not participate.

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