Looking a little exhausted after the Vikings ran him all over the rain-soaked LP Field tonight, second-year running back Joe Banyard said he had no idea he had just eclipsed 100 rushing yards.
Rushing for 111 yards on 18 carries, Banyard, who is battling for a roster spot, made a strong argument to be the team’s fourth running back behind Peterson, Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon.
“At the end of the day, I was just trying to do what’s best for this team,” said Banyard, who also had one catch for two yards. “If the opportunity was presenting itself, I was trying to capitalize on that.”
After McKinnon got three carries in the early going, Banyard took over as the primary ball-carrier and pretty much carried the offense on his back. He rushed for 59 yards on the team’s first two drives, and his 20-yard run down to the Tennessee 3-yard line on the opening drive set up rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s third-down touchdown pass to wide receiver Adam Thielen.
Banyard finished the preseason with a team-high 212 yards. He averaged 5.9 yards per attempt.
But head coach Mike Zimmer stopped short of saying that Banyard had locked down a roster spot.
“Joe has played good this whole preseason, and that’s another guy that is a good kid, that works real hard and he is showing up a lot in the preseason,” Zimmer said. “Him and [rookie] Dominique [Williams] have also both done nice jobs. We’ll sit down tomorrow and talk about those things.”
Even if Banyard doesn’t make the Vikings’ 53-man roster, he certainly put up some impressive tape during the preseason. So it’s going to be difficult for them to sneak him onto their practice squad.