Commitment to Run has RB, OL Satisfied

The Vikings displayed an uncanny (in comparison to recent history) ability to stick with the run on Monday night. The coaches and players involved talked about Chester Taylor's workload.

The Vikings have said all off-season and preseason that they signed Chester Taylor during free agency for a reason – so he could become their featured running back.

If Monday night's 31-attempt performance was any indication, he will be featured more than a Hollywood celebrity.

"They said we were going to run the ball a lot and we did," Taylor said this week. "I'm just looking to carrying on the rest of the season like that."

Don't count on it, at least not to that degree.

If Taylor averaged 31 rushes per game the rest of the regular season, he would end up with 496 rushes, shattering Jamal Anderson's all-time record of 410 attempts in 1998. Vikings fans will remember Anderson from the days of the "Dirty Bird" touchdown dance and the lost NFC Championship game to the Falcons, which might illustrate the importance of a strong rushing attack.

But the Vikings say they will continue to stress the run.

"We have to continue to stress the run, continue to hand it to Chester and, you know, probably a couple other guys, and just continue to pound the ball in there," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "Everyone's going to get better. We saw some holes starting to open up. As you know, at the beginning of the game you're going to get 1-, and 2- and 3-yarders, and you've got to be willing to take those so you can get the 10- to 12- to 40-yarders in the fourth quarter."

Those long runs never happened against Washington. Taylor's long rush of the first half was 7 yards; in the second half it was 10.

"We knew that's how it was going to be throughout the game and we needed to keep grinding on them," Taylor said. "(Head coach Brad) Childress just stuck with it because we wore them down towards the fourth quarter. They're a great defense and we knew we had to wear them down and that's what we did."

Taylor did rush far more in the second half than the first half – 21 of his 31 attempts were in the second half, and 56 of his 88 yards came in the second half.

"I think he had about 35 complete touches in the game. Yeah, we'd like to give as many as we can. I don't know if 31 is exactly what you want or not," Bevell said. "We have other guys that we can give the ball to. We can spread it with Mewelde (Moore), Ciatrick (Fason), and Artose (Pinner) and see what we can get with some of those other guys. Maybe just to give him a break here and there."

Considering that Taylor was never a full-time starter Baltimore, the drastic change would seem to be a big deal to him. But this week he shrugged off the amount of hits he took on Monday night.
"It's football, everybody gets bumped up and bruised. Every time you go out there, you get bumped up and bruised. I'm a running back. That's the most physical position on the field," Taylor said. "I'll just try to take care of my body throughout the week and get ready for Sunday."

While the Vikings only averaged 2.5 yards per rush, tackle Bryant McKinnie said he believes rushing that much helps the passing game too. And gives the offensive linemen a better chance to protect their quarterback.

"I don't mind it because it wears down the defensive end and his pass rush slows down a little bit. Plus, when you go to play-action pass, he stands to read whether it's a run or not because we've been running so good. It actually worked out good for us.

"They just had to respect that. Because we ran the ball so much there was more balance."

It was a stark contrast to last year, when the Vikings' leading rusher, Mewelde Moore, averaged less than 10 carries per game played. As a team last year, the Vikings averaged 23.8 carries per game.

On Monday night, the new-era Vikings had 34 carries, and most everyone involved in the rushing game seemed to enjoy that.

"The more you beat on them, generally, the better it becomes. You're going to have some ones, twos and some zeros, and that's certainly not how they're blocked. They're blocked to go all the way every time. They're coaching on that side and they're playing on that side too," Childress said. "I've mentioned before that I've never met a lineman in my life that has ever said, ‘Hey coach, let's pass the ball more.' Not one. They'd rather get their hands on those guys. It makes your pass protection easier, makes your play-action better, and all around lets your linemen do what they get paid to do."

Especially when the team runs it 34 out of 65 plays … and comes away with a road win.


  • McKinnie said he hasn't had a chance to celebrate his new seven-year, $48.5 million contract yet. "Maybe in my off week or maybe in Miami when we get to the Super Bowl," he said.

    The left tackle continues to get his left hand taped after fracturing a finger in the preseason.

  • Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, who tore the ACL in his knee in the preseason opener, is walking without a brace and without much of a limp. He said he's lost weight, and it looks like it, and he said he's already doing balance and strengthening exercises.

  • Cornerback Charles Gordon, who had preseason surgery to repair damaged cartilage to his left knee, isn't wearing a brace of any sort anymore.

  • Viking Update Top Stories