When asked who has been the most impressive player so far, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson first bunched in all the quarterbacks, then he singled out someone that really caught his eye – rookie running back Jerick McKinnon.
“He’s pretty impressive and there’s not too many guys who impress me like that, especially rookies coming in,” Peterson said. “He’s been able to do some real good things in the offense, picking it up well and just his running style.”
That shifty running style McKinnon credits to some of the college running backs he watched growing up, like Florida State’s Peter Warrick and Southern California’s Reggie Bush.
“As a youngin’, you pick up on it and try to be like that and do some of their moves,” McKinnon said.
Like Bush during his NFL career, McKinnon will be asked to do a little of everything on offense and special teams. His versatility was one of the reason the Vikings selected him in the third round as someone to complement Peterson and Matt Asiata. McKinnon was a quarterback, running back and kick returner at Georgia Southern.
McKinnon recorded just 10 career receptions in college, however. That was hard to believe given how natural he looked over the last two months using his hands. While McKinnon was a quarterback at Sprayberry High in Marietta, Ga., he also played wide receiver. He was named wide receiver MVP of the National Underclassmen Ultimate 100 in high school, one of the many combine workouts for high school players to gain exposure.
“Being in the situation that I was in college, you really didn’t get to see a lot of it,” McKinnon said. “But I feel real comfortable with it. Coach [Norv] Turner is asking a lot from me to do different things. Whatever I can do to contribute to the team, I’m willing to do it.”
McKinnon has leaned on Turner and Peterson to help learn the offense and adapt to the NFL. McKinnon said he’s always observing Peterson and asking for advice during practice.
“When you’re learning from the best in the game, you really just got to take on everything and everything he says you got to listen to,” McKinnon said. “I just got to feed off him and all it to my game.”