EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings injury report was the same for the second straight day on Friday afternoon, as running backs Dalvin Cook and Alexander both sat out practice with injuries.
Cook injured his shoulder in Week 15 against the Chargers, while Mattison hasn't practiced since sustaining an ankle injury the previous week against the Lions.
That means things are trending as if Mike Boone could see a heavy workload Monday night against the Packers, including the possibility of getting his first-career NFL start.
"It'll feel good if that's the case. I could finally get a start and try to make the most of it," Boone said. "It's Monday Night Football, man. As a kid, that's what you dream of.
"To be in this position and possibly be able to be out there, it means a lot," Boone added.
Boone entered Sunday's game in Southern California and recorded 56 rushing yards and his first two career scores on just 13 carries.
That wasn't a surprise to Boone's teammates, who have seen him excel in preseason games in each of the past two seasons. Both Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph said they expected nothing less from the former University of Cincinnati standout in the regular season.
"He's a guy that I remember, in the preseason, he was just so fun to watch," Thielen said. "I remember that last game you're like, 'Get him out of there! We need that guy for the season.'
"He's just so talented and runs the football with a mentality that you don't see every day. Obviously, that room is extremely deep. We have guys that can do things like that," Thielen added. "He's another one of those guys. We're going to have to have everybody on board, and he's going to have to be one of those guys who has to step up and make plays for us."
Rudolph, who mobbed Boone after his first score, added: "I love the way he plays. I love the way he works. It seems like the last two preseasons, when he gets carries, he makes the most of it, and then all season long, he's played well on special teams and been one of our best players on special teams. You never know when your opportunity is going to come. He got his opportunity on Sunday in L.A., and he ran the ball with a different tempo. He came in there and was excited, tried to make the most of every run and ended up scoring his first two touchdowns in the NFL."
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has praised Boone's play on special teams multiple times this season.
Zimmer said Friday that Boone brings an energy to the field no matter what phase it is.
"Yeah, he's really been chomping at the bit to play, anyway, and that's why he's been doing such a great job for us on special teams, because he just wants to get on the field and play," Zimmer said. "I think [Vikings running backs coach] Kennedy [Polamalu] does a great job with him – and Dalvin and those other guys, as well. I think he's just really excited about any time he can get on the field."
Boone has 21 carries for 97 yards and two touchdowns this season, and he has 32 attempts for 144 yards in his career.
Boone joined the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in the spring of 2018.
"I finally get an opportunity, and I try to take advantage," Boone said.
Thielen rooting hard for Mavs' title hopes
The Vikings will be done with their weekly walk-through session by the time 2 p.m. rolls around Saturday afternoon.
That means Adam Thielen will be glued to a TV or his phone to follow along for the Division II national title game between Thielen's alma mater of Minnesota State, Mankato and West Florida.
Mankato is undefeated at 14-0, while the Argonauts are 12-2. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. (CT) on ESPNU.
"For sure, I'm super pumped. I've been following them all season," Thielen said. "Every year I follow them and make sure that they're winning games. Then the times I get to watch them on the Internet, I do.
"It's always fun to talk about your school in the meeting rooms and with other teammates. It's fun that now guys know about Mankato and how much success they've had these past few years. I'm sure there will be a lot of guys in the locker room that are watching the game and hoping that the Mavs win and pull it out," Thielen added. "I'm obviously a proud alum, and I give those guys nothing but my support because obviously that school has done so much for me and is a big reason why I'm who I am and I'm doing what I'm doing."
Thielen played for the Mavericks from 2009-2012 and finished his career with 198 catches for 2,802 yards with 20 touchdowns.
Both schools are looking for their first national title.
Ervin Provides Punch on Punt Return | By Craig Peters
For a large part of the season, the Packers punt return averages sounded like a reading of the Deltas' GPAs in Animal House.
"Mr. Blutarsky — 0.0," Dean Wormer famously says, and believe it or not, Green Bay was even sub-Bluto at one point.
But that's changed since Green Bay picked up Jacksonville castaway Tyler Ervin.
Originally selected in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of San Jose State, Ervin has averaged 12.6 yards on five punt returns since Week 14. He's also returned four kickoffs a total of 120 yards (30.0 per return).
"He's a very athletic guy, and he brings another speed, another gear that the guy they used to have (Trevor Davis) didn't have," Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf said. "It's important that we are fundamentally sound in our coverage this week more than ever. I mean every week poses a new problem, but he's an electric guy. They've got him on kickoff return as well, so we have to be very smart on coverage lanes and respect his speed and athleticism."
Ervin's help on punt returns (63 yards) has lifted the unit to 55 yards on 14 returns. The Packers have 24 fair catches this season.
In Week 2, Davis returned two punts for zero yards and fair caught three more against Minnesota.