While the Minnesota Vikings finish up their offseason practices next week with a three-day minicamp, veteran running back Latavius Murray is hoping that is the week that he can start running on dry land again.
Murray had surgery on his right ankle on March 22, a week after signing with the Vikings in free agency, and said he was open with teams that had an interest in signing him.
“I knew going into it and we were transparent about it so we wanted to let teams know. We didn’t want to get into a situation where we weren’t being transparent and they thought we were withholding any information,” he said Wednesday while golfing in the Vikings charity golf tournament at The Meadows at Mystic Lake. “I felt like if I was honest with everything about my situation, the team that really wanted me would make it happen and that’s where I was ultimately supposed to be.”
He found out he would need the surgery shortly before free agency started, saying he initially thought it was a sprain from the regular-season finale and was hoping it would heal on its own after the season but eventually felt he needed to get it examined.
“I was just trying to really play through it and just suck it up. That’s when at the end of the season I figured let me get some rest and healed up and it will get better,” he said. “But at that point it hadn’t and I wanted to get it checked up and that’s when I found out I had a bigger problem that needed surgery.”
He had the same surgery on his left ankle at the end of his rookie season with the Oakland Raiders, when he started three games and played in 15, rushing 82 times for 424 yards and two touchdowns.
The following year was his most productive, as he rushed for 1,066 yards, a 4-yard average and had six touchdowns in 2015. Last year, he had 788 yards and 12 touchdowns.
“I’ve dealt with this rehab. I’ve dealt with this surgery so I think that’s been a benefit for me because I’m feeling great but I also knew what to expect. The rehab process has been really good,” he said.
“… It was nothing I was afraid of, that I would have a setback from. I knew it because I’ve had it before. I knew that when I needed it before, it did nothing but benefit me and made me better. I was just happy I figured out what it was and I could get it fixed.”
Murray is optimistic that he will be able to participate in some form at the start of training camp, but to date he hasn’t been able to practice with the Vikings. He has been a sideline observer during practices and involved in the meeting rooms. To this point, his rehab has involved an antigravity treadmill and work in a pool.
If Murray can be ready for the start of the preseason, he knows that is when the competition for carries in the backfield will kick into gear with Dalvin Cook and Jerick McKinnon.
“When I was brought into Oakland, I had two guys before me that had made an impact in the league. I’m sure Dalvin looks at his situation the same way for me. What I do know is that the more competition in one room the better off the group can be,” Murray said. “We have that right now with bringing Dalvin in and Jet already being there. I think we just need to all get each other better. I think right now is the time to get better for everybody.
“I think once the season comes around and it’s time for training camp, I think that’s when the real battle will come in, and the preseason games. That’s when everyone’s got to bring their best and separate themselves. I’m going to do everything I can, like I have in the past, to separate myself and I’m sure those guys are going to do the same.”