The Vikings’ roster lists Jerick McKinnon at 205 pounds, but that’s not giving the bulked-up running back enough credit.
“I was 212 yesterday,” McKinnon said Tuesday as the Vikings began a three-day mandatory minicamp to close the offseason.
McKinnon is the shortest player on the Vikings roster at 5-9, but he looks a little bigger as the main man in Minnesota’s backfield this spring ahead of rookie Dalvin Cook and rehabbing veteran Latavius Murray. McKinnon has added at least 12 pounds since last season in an effort to become more durable entering his fourth NFL season.
“Just getting dinged up as the season goes along,” said McKinnon, who hovered around 200 pounds last year. “You got 17 weeks. It gets hard on the body, so I’m just trying to keep it on for that purpose.”
McKinnon missed only one game last season, but he was on seven of the first 10 injury reports dealing with foot, toe and ankle issues. In the Vikings’ league-worst run game, McKinnon stumbled with a career-low 3.4 yards per carry on a career-high 159 attempts as no runner, including Adrian Peterson, could find room.
Last year’s blocking issues aside, the Vikings also lacked playmaking from their ball carriers. McKinnon hopes the added muscle will make him tougher to take down. His 2.04-yard average after contact last year ranked 50 out of 53 qualified running backs, according to Pro Football Focus.
“If I can keep [the weight on], I’ll be good,” McKinnon said. “I’ll be more explosive and even harder for the other teams to bring me down. That’s what it was about.”
Now he’s just trying to eat enough to maintain his weight ahead of this summer’s competition for playing time with Cook and Murray.
“It gets kind of difficult,” McKinnon said. “Having the walk-through in the morning, practicing all day and fitting meals between scheduled time and stuff like that.”
Clemmings moves to guard
T.J. Clemmings is the most tenured Vikings offensive tackle, but he’s not a tackle anymore. He’s been working at right guard throughout the spring as the Vikings try to find a more comfortable spot for the 2015 fourth-round draft pick.
“It’s a little bit of a work in progress,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “The best place for him is where it’s a little bit more condensed. T.J. is a great kid. He’s going to give you his best every day. He’s going to come out here and work.”
Clemmings has been called up to start 31 games as a replacement at both right and left tackle during his two NFL seasons, but with Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers in the fold, the Vikings are trying something different with Clemmings, a third-year pro.
“I think [guard] might be a good spot for him,” Zimmer said.
Add second-year receiver Laquon Treadwell to the chorus praising quarterback Teddy Bridgewater nearly 10 months into his rehab from his knee dislocation and multiple ligament tears. Treadwell said Bridgewater, who still hasn’t been cleared to practice, looks as if he wasn’t even injured.
How can he tell?
“Just the way he’s getting the ball out,” Treadwell said. “He’s getting the ball out fast before you’re even breaking. Probably a little bit too fast sometimes, but that’s his competitive nature.”
• Quarterback Sam Bradford was a full go Tuesday after he was held back last week because of muscle tightness.
• NFL referee Sarah Thomas was among the few officials working the start of Vikings minicamp.
• Lightning struck and damaged a field goal net post Sunday at Winter Park, splitting the concrete foundation and frying sprinkler wiring less than a year before the team moves to Eagan.