Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Lex Hilliard may have edge over Jordan Todman in third running back battle

Posted by: under Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Adrian Peterson, Leslie Frazier Updated: August 3, 2012 - 1:00 PM
The Vikings face an interesting situation as they sort through their running back depth during training camp. After all, for right now, given Adrian Peterson’s uncertain status, the fight for the third running back spot – featuring Lex Hilliard versus Jordan Todman – is really a fight for the second running back spot. And that will complicate things.
 
Peterson remains on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and has not been cleared yet to return to practice. And while all the rhetoric for the past four months has centered around Peterson being back and ready to play in the regular season opener Sept. 9, that’s definitely not a given.
 
“We’re all hoping Adrian gets back and he’s the player we remember,” head coach Leslie Frazier said after this morning’s walk-through. “But you also have to go through the scenario of what if it takes more time than he thinks. So that next guy, as opposed to being a third back, is now your second back. Do we have the right people to be the second back?”
 
Consider this stretch of camp a golden opportunity for Hilliard to prove his worth. Not only is Todman currently sidelined with a minor left ankle sprain, but Hilliard seems to be ahead of Todman in Frazier’s eyes.
 
Todman certainly seems to have a more eye-catching skillset with his burst and ability to change directions. But Hilliard’s reliability on special teams may provide him an edge.
 
“Lex has played in this league and been successful,” Frazier said. “And one of his fortes is being a good special teams player. So he’s a proven commodity in that area. That’s one of the reasons we signed him because he not only give you something in the backfield but he’s been a very good special teams player as well. Whereas Jordan is a guy who’s been on a practice squad; so he’s still learning the NFL. There is a difference there. He has some juice. And that was one of the attractions when we signed him. But they’re different in their careers in where they are.”
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