After seven consecutive seasons of not ever having to worry about what kind of production they'd get from the position, the Vikings have worked hard in 2014 to maintain a quality level of play from their running backs. With Adrian Peterson's status in doubt for much of the regular season, the Vikings have relied on Matt Asiata to fill the role of an all-around back and they've also given Jerick McKinnon a significant work load in his rookie season.
Now, with the Vikings claiming and being awarded former Cleveland Browns RB Ben Tate off waivers, there is another horse in the running back stable. What does the addition of Tate mean for the Vikings? Let's take a look.
View images of new Vikings RB Ben Tate from his days in Houston and Cleveland.
1. Another RB to take practice repsThe Vikings came out of last week's game in Chicago banged up at the running back position. Jerick McKinnon dealt with a back injury last week and then missed practice on Wednesday because of the ailment. Matt Asiata was also listed on the injury report and missed practice on Wednesday with a concussion. That left Joe Banyard and the newly signed Dominique Williams (practice squad) as the only running backs on the roster. Tate's addition gives the Vikings another back to take reps for the week in practice while the team figures out who will be available for this week's game against Green Bay.
2. Tate Could Play on SundayIt will already be Thursday by the time Tate sees the Vikings practice field and takes a look at the playbook, but running back is one of the easier positions to learn quickly and get on the field. Granted, it's not *easy *to play any position in the NFL, but if a player has to come in on short-notice and contribute to the team, running back isn't a bad position. Given that both Asiata and McKinnon are banged up, it's conceivable Tate could suit up as soon as Sunday and tote the rock for the Vikings. This would give the Vikings a reliable runner and it would also allow the team to keep Banyard in his special teams role.
3. A potential long-term option at RBTate is under contract for the rest of the 2014 season and for the 2015 season. The Vikings will have an opportunity over the final six games of 2014 to assess whether or not they'd like to keep Tate on the roster going forward and have him as one of their main running backs for next season. In three-plus seasons with the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns, Tate has 527 carries for 2,325 yards (4.4 yards per carry) and 14 touchdowns.