*EAGAN, Minn. – *Latavius Murray isn’t taking anything for granted.
A year ago, the running back’s main priority was learning the playbook and getting healthy. Now with a season in Purple under his belt and at full strength, Murray is able to focus solely on football.
Murray spoke to Twin Cities media members following the Vikings first day of mandatory minicamp Tuesday and stressed that “it all starts” with being healthy.
“If you’re able to be healthy, then you’re able to come out here and participate, and you’re able to come out here and get better and improve,” Murray said. “Being injured last year, I wasn’t able to come out here [for practice], I wasn’t able to do anything. I got better in the weight room but wasn’t really able to get better on the football field.
“I think that’s obviously the positive now,” Murray added. “That I can come out here … and do football-related things and get better on the football field – which, at the end of the day, is most important.”
Murray, who underwent ankle surgery during the 2017 offseason, stepped in when Dalvin Cook suffered a torn ACL in Week 4. As the season – and his ankle – progressed, Murray hit his stride. He finished the season with 842 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 216 carries.
Murray has worked in OTAs and minicamp to not only pick up where he left off but to continue improving his game, and it shows.
“Latavius had a great spring,” Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer told media members Tuesday afternoon. “He looks way better than he did at this time [last season]. Obviously at the beginning of training camp last year we were uncertain, but he was out there today, running the ball really good.”
Added Zimmer: “He’s seeing things well, he’s making good cuts, and I think they’ll be good competition.”
Murray will be joined in the backfield by Cook, who has been making significant headway in his own rehab.
Over the last few months, he and Cook have been building chemistry with Kirk Cousins, whom the Vikings signed in free agency. Murray acknowledged, however, that there isn’t as much of a learning curve with a new quarterback for running backs as there likely is for the receivers. He emphasized that accruing as many reps as possible, especially in the case of handoffs, is the most valuable piece of working with Cousins.
When asked if he believes the Vikings have one of the best 1-2 punches at running back in the league, Murray didn’t bat an eye.
“I mean, we believe in what we’re able to do, and I believe in our abilities in that room,” Murray said. “So we’ll let people decide who’s the best and whatnot. We’re working to be the best, he and I, competing and pushing each other and making each other better.”