Cut by the Denver Broncos before the start of the season, Hillman worked out for the San Diego Chargers on Sept. 20, but the Minnesota Viking signed him the next day to help make up for the loss of Adrian Peterson, who suffered a knee injury.
On Monday, the Vikings waived Hillman to promoted DE Stephen Weatherly to the 53-man roster. On Tuesday, the Chargers finally got their crack at Hillman, claiming him off waivers from the Vikings. The Broncos also reportedly put in a waiver claim on Hillman, but the Chargers, because they have a worse record than the Broncos, were awarded Hillman.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said on Tuesday that the release of Hillman “didn’t have anything to do with the running game,” but said it “possibly” had something to do with another team wanting to sign Weatherly to their 53-man roster. The Vikings could prevent that by signing Weatherly to their active roster and they did that.
Although the Vikings still have the last-ranked running game in the NFL, Zimmer has maintained that he has seen signs of improvement there.
“I thought we did better last week in a lot of different runs,” Zimmer said. “Part of it was we broke some tackles last week, which is good. Some of it we had some nice runs in there that we got blocked good. To me, all that goes hand-in-hand.
“Sometimes runners have to break some tackles, have to beat the safety once in a while. Then sometimes we have to clean it up. The most encouraging thing to me, because we talked really a lot last week about third-and-1, the third-and-1 that we hit, we got some movement. We got our pads down, we came off the ball, we were physical, the back didn’t tip-toe in there, he hit it. To me, that shows a little bit of progress. We’re not going to be Eric Dickerson yet. We’re working on the little things.”
In the five games that he was active for the Vikings, Hillman rushed 18 times for 50 yards.