As Latavius Murray worked from more of a featured back role in 2015 to a timeshare in 2016, his carries went down but his touchdowns went up.
Perhaps that’s part of the reason Murray, acquired by the Minnesota Vikings in free agency, could see a short-yardage and goal-line role for himself with his new team.
“I would hope so. It’s something that I enjoy,” he said of being a goal-line back. “That’s something that I pride myself in – when you’re in those situation, score touchdowns. I know those other guys are eager to get in there as well and I definitely don’t blame them. But situations like that, I love when my number is called.”
When Murray signed with the Vikings, he knew they were moving on from Adrian Peterson, but he didn’t know they would be moving up in the second round to draft Cook. But after a month of watching what Cook can do, Murray could envision himself and Cook, and even McKinnon, complementing each other with their different skill sets.
“Most definitely. I think when you look at the two, you’re like, ‘OK, these are definitely two different backs based off of physical attributes.’ I think we can complement each other well, as well as Jet [McKinnon],” Murray said. “I think all three of us do some different things great, so I think collectively we’ll definitely have to learn from each other and do what each individual back does best. I definitely think we all can complement each other and make each other better. When you have that kind of talent in one room, from my experience and what I’ve learned in the past, that’s a really good thing.”
Murray hasn’t been able to get on the practice field for the Vikings yet. Ten days after signing with Minnesota, he had surgery to repair his ankle.
The Vikings say they knew surgery would be needed when they signed him and Murray said he was upfront with all the teams that were interested in him in free agency. Initially, he believed the pain would go away after the 2016 season, but eventually he had the ankle examined and learned surgery would be necessary.
While he wasn’t able to practice during spring practices, he assumed a different role – leader.
“I think obviously I bring some experience to the room. I think for the first time I’m the most experience back in a room so I have to take on that role,” he said. “I have to understand that and I have to go out there and go about my day that way. I have to go out and practice that way when the time comes. I think that’s where it starts, my leadership and my experience. I’ll continue to just get better and continue to try to improve and just make plays, whether that’s running the ball or catching the ball or protecting the quarterback.”
The Vikings believe Murray should be ready to practice at the start of training camp or shortly thereafter. Until then, however, they have been getting a long look at Cook and McKinnon with the first-team offense.
Count Murray among those impressed with what Cook might be able to provide, calling him the “competition battle” for playing time.
“He’s definitely a big-play guy. Very shifty, very quick and he has that big-play ability and I think I have to,” Murray said. “I’m a bigger back, downhill runner that can get to and break away on the outside. I try to use my size to score touchdowns at the goal-line, and I try to use my size to pick up first downs. I’m aware of what I do best, but I do have the ability to break some long ones and make some guys miss, but I’m going to continue to use my size and my speed to my advantage.”