With Adrian Peterson held out of the game and Matt Asiata pulled after scoring a touchdown on the team's first offensive series, last night's preseason game against the Raiders gave Mike Zimmer a chance to check out rookie running back Jerick McKinnon in a live-contact situation.
McKinnon impressed, especially in the early going, as he led the team with 45 yards on 12 carries.
"He obviously showed up the most [among rookies] because he was carrying the ball," Zimmer said.
McKinnon displayed patience and vision while running behind the first-team offensive line. On his only drive with that quintet, the third-round pick rushed for 36 yards on six carries. On his longest run, a 12-yarder, he was able to bounce it outside and turn up the sideline before being forced out.
"Coming from the collegiate level, all you hear is the speed of the game," McKinnon said. "I wanted to show that I could adapt to that pretty quick off the bat. In the game, the rest of the running backs gave me some pointers about the speed and tempo of the game, and that definitely helped out."
Asked to critique himself, McKinnon said he made a physical mistake in pass protection, something he didn't really do at Georgia Southern. He also said there were a couple of times where he should have just cut upfield and gotten what he could instead of trying to break a big one. Zimmer, though, had a different critique; he was disappointed that the rookie let punts hit the ground as a returner.
"He probably won't catch punts next week," Zimmer said. "Other than that, Jerick has got great acceleration, he's got great hands, he's tough, he's think, he's powerful and it showed."