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Vikings See Opportunity For Successful Ground Game

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Something has got to give on Sunday in Washington.

The Vikings enter Week 10 with the NFL's 31st-ranked rushing offense, averaging 72.6 yards per game. Washington's defense, meanwhile, ranks 31st in the league by giving up 4.85 yards per rush.

Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon said the time is now to get Minnesota's rushing offense in gear.

"We need explosive plays," McKinnon said. "They're 31st against the run and we're 31st (in rushing offense), so on Sunday something has got to give.

"Our receivers are going to make plays and Sam (Bradford) is going to make good decisions," he added. "It's up to the running backs, fullback and line to get the running game going. I think once we open up that, then more big plays will start coming."

McKinnon, who has been hampered of late – and was sidelined in Week 8 – with an ankle injury, leads the Vikings with 75 carries and has 225 yards and a score. Fellow running back Matt Asiata has 71 carries for a team-high 227 yards while Ronnie Hillman has 12 carries for 39 yards.

"I'm feeling better each and every week," McKinnon said. "The first half of the season as been rough for me, my body has been kind of bruised up.

"I'm excited for the second half (of the season)," he added. "Me personally, I feel like I have a lot to prove. I'm just working on bringing my 150 percent to the table each and every week."

Vikings center Joe Berger said the running game should flow no matter which back gets the ball. Berger said it's up to his group to pave the way and move the chains.

"Our offensive lines takes it very analytical at looking at what we have to do to get better each week," Berger said. "There's no reason we can't run the ball this week. 

"We just have to do it. This game is about execution," he added.

The Vikings used plenty of short, quick passes last week under Interim Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur, who said the scheme could help complement the running game.

"Some of the short passes actually kind of fit into the run-game mode," Shurmur said Thursday. "The ball gets put out on the perimeter, sort of like a sweep play. It's, I guess, how you want to look at it, but yeah, it's important for running backs to be able to catch.

"Fortunately, we have a group of backs here that do a nice job catching the ball," he added.

Whether he gets the ball on the ground or through the air, McKinnon said he'll do all he can to help Minnesota end a three-game losing streak.

"We just have to keep pounding and find a way to score and get our defense some room to breathe," McKinnon said. "Nobody in the locker room is panicking, we just have to gel together and find a way to get a win."

Joseph optimistic he'll play against Washington

Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph returned to practice Friday and said he's optimistic about playing Sunday in Washington. Joseph missed the past two days of practice with a shoulder issue.

"I'm ready to go," Joseph said Friday. "Can't wait for Sunday."

Joseph made waves last Sunday when he lined up as a fullback twice in goal line situations. The Vikings scored on both plays, although Joseph didn't touch the ball at all.

Joseph said he has an all-in approach in trying to help the Vikings get their sixth win.

"I know what I have to do. I mean, that's football," Joseph said. "Offense, defense, you have to rise the occasion. And that's what I did – you're just trying to help the team win."

Joseph is third on the Vikings with 49 total tackles (coaches' tally) with 3.0 sacks, six tackles for loss and a forced fumble.

Walsh excited to contribute on Sunday

Vikings kicker Blair Walsh has endured an up-and-down season so far, but there's one word that sums up his emotions at the moment — excited.

Although Minnesota brought in kickers for a workout Tuesday, the Vikings stuck with Walsh, who said he's raring to go for Sunday.

"That's a good word — I'm excited to go out there and play and have an opportunity to help this team win," Walsh said.

Walsh has made 12 of 16 field goals and is 13 of 16 on extra points this season. The fifth-year pro said he's analyzed all of his kicks in an effort to correct his mistakes.

"You have to know what you did wrong and what you did right," said Walsh, who missed an extra point Sunday and had a 46-yard field goal blocked.

Injury reports

The week's final injury report was released Friday.

For the Vikings: Sharrif Floyd (knee) and Marcus Sherels (ankle) did not participate and will not play Sunday. Laquon Treadwell (hamstring) did not participate and is questionable. Joseph, Captain Munnerlyn (ankle) and Zac Kerin (hand) were limited and are questionable for Sunday. Ronnie Hillman (heel), McKinnon (ankle), Alex Boone (concussion), Eric Kendricks (concussion), Anthony Barr (ankle), Andrew Sendejo (ankle) and Audie Cole (hand) fully participated.

For the Redskins: WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder) did not participate and is doubtful. S Will Blackmon (thumb) and T Morgan Moses (ankle) were limited and are questionable. S Duke Ihenacho (concussion) fully participated and is questionable. G Brandon Scherff (shoulder) and DE Chris Baker (toe) were also full participants.

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