Running Game Making Strides

The running game isn't quite what it was last year with Robert Smith, but Pro Bowl center Matt Birk says it is improving every week.

There is no question the Vikings offense is feeling the effects of losing running back Robert Smith. But center Matt Birk, for one, is not unsatisfied with the team's rushing game.

"We are doing some good things in the running game," he said. "Our average is all right and we are throwing the ball a lot. You have to take what the defense gives you. I don't care how good you are at running the ball. If teams commit to stopping the run, they are going to stop the run. Against Tampa Bay, you look at what Daunte did, dumping the balls off because (defenses) are taking away the deep threat. You have to take what the defense gives you and right now that's what we are doing."

Birk also feels the retooled offensive line is making strides. "It's definitely getting there," he said. "When you put together a (10-minute) drive like we did (against the Bucs), that helps. It builds your confidence so you can get rolling a little bit. You kind of get into a groove.

"All year we have worked extremely hard in practice and for the most part we just try to get better every day. Every Sunday is our test. I feel like in the first three games we have played better and better and better. But we don't just want to be average, we want to be great. … We are going to keep working at becoming great." VU


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