Those looking for clarity on what Wednesday's trade for Rams running back Cam Akers means for Alexander Mattison came away not entirely satisfied when Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips was asked point blank whether Mattison will continue being the team's lead back.
"I'll always let [coach] Kevin [O'Connell] talk about starters and those types of things," Phillips said, "but we haven't lost confidence in Alexander Mattison. I will say that.
"Unfortunately, we've had a couple of turnovers in the run game where we obviously need to clean that up. Everyone's aware of that. But we still feel very strongly in Alex and Ty [Chandler] and those guys being able to go in and produce. We know we have to be better in the run game."
The Vikings rank last in the league in yards rushing per game (34.5) and 30th in average per carry (2.65). Mattison has 62 yards rushing with a long of 9 yards on 19 carries (3.3) and has one of the team's six lost fumbles.
Akers is 5-11, 212 pounds and is known best for running with power. Mattison is 5-11, 215 and, well, ditto.
Both have three career fumbles. Akers had two fumbles in 201 touches with the Rams last year.
"[Akers] has had a couple of fumbles, but I don't think in general he's had a fumbling problem," said Phillips, a former Rams assistant coach like O'Connell. "It's really the intentional practice, day in and day out. It can't be a 'Hey, once the game starts, now I'm really securing it.'
"Cam is an intentional guy as far as practice. He always practiced well, he always practiced hard. He's got good energy about him in the huddle. I know the guys always responded to him. He was kind of uplifting in the huddle."
To make room for Akers on the roster, the Vikings placed receiver Jalen Nailor on injured reserve because of a hamstring injury. He will miss at least four games.
Flores' 'best 11' couldn't stop 16-play drive
The lowlight of the Vikings' inability to keep the Eagles from gaining 259 yards rushing on 48 carries was a 16-play touchdown drive in which the Vikings used five linebackers, five defensive backs and one tackle on 14 of the snaps. The Eagles responded by running the ball 13 times.
"I think in some instances you want to get bigger, more powerful, but we're always just trying to get the best 11 out there," Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores explained. "That was kind of the group we needed in that instance."
On another personnel note, Flores explained why Theo Jackson, a sixth-round pick of the Titans in 2022, has moved ahead of Lewis Cine, the Vikings' first-round pick in the same draft.
"I think Lewis is doing a lot of good things," Flores said. "He's obviously working back from injury a year ago. Where we sit right now, we just feel like Theo is going to be the next guy in. And I think Theo has earned that."
Rudolph retires in purple
Kyle Rudolph wore a purple suit while surrounded by his wife and four young children as he explained the importance of officially retiring as a Viking during a news conference at TCO Performance Center on Thursday.
"You look at my career and that's what I was," said Rudolph, 33, a Vikings tight end from 2011-20.
The Vikings will honor Rudolph during Sunday's game against the Chargers. He had 453 receptions, sixth in franchise history, for 4,488 yards and 48 touchdowns in 10 seasons with the Vikings.
Now an NBC analyst on Big Ten games and host to a Fox Sports Radio show on Sunday nights, Rudolph said his favorite NFL moment was beating the Saints in the playoffs at the Superdome as a 7 ½-point underdog during the 2019 season.
"It has nothing to do with actually catching the game-winning touchdown, but what ultimately ensued thereafter," Rudolph said. "Really no one outside of this building believed we had a chance."
Vikings edge rusher Marcus Davenport, whose only action this season was four snaps at Philadelphia, again did not practice. He was asked about the status of his ankle injury Thursday. "Progress," he said. "One of them day-to-day things."
Asked if he thinks he'll play Sunday, Davenport said, "Best way to put it, I don't know."
Center Garrett Bradbury, who did not practice Wednesday, was limited Thursday as he tries to return from a back injury. Left tackle Christian Darrisaw (ankle), linebacker Jordan Hicks (shin) and safety Josh Metellus (shoulder) were also listed as limited.
For the Chargers, outside linebacker Joey Bosa (hamstring) did not practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday, and running back Austin Ekeler (ankle) and former Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks (hamstring) remained sidelined. Defensive lineman Christopher Hinton (back) was added to the injury report after he didn't practice Thursday.
Outside linebacker Kahlil Mack, who took a rest day Wednesday, was a full participant in practice as were linebacker Daiyan Henley (hamstring) and outside linebacker Chris Rumph II (hamstring).
Little returner, big problem
Chargers rookie returner Derius Davis will, according to Vikings special teams coordinator Matt Daniels, present "one of our biggest tests this season."
Davis, a 5-8, 165-pounder, was drafted in the fourth round after posting six return touchdowns, including a school-record five punt returns, at TCU. He added an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown in the preseason and now ranks sixth among NFL punt returners with a 13.2-yard average.
"He's got great first-step burst, explosion," Daniels said. "He can accelerate really, really quickly."
In a game last fall, Davis reached a speed of 23.47 mph, the fastest of any college or NFL player.