Latavius Murray already needed to sit out two games last season due to turf toe, then something was bothering him during the first Raiders-Broncos game in Week 9.
You couldn’t tell by looking at him, but during Murray’s best game in a trying season he injured the ankle that would require arthroscopic surgery right after the Vikings signed him to a three-year, $15 million deal in March.
Murray ran for 114 yards and three touchdowns despite injuring his right ankle against the vaunted Broncos defense. From then on he averaged fewer than 3.0 yards per carry in four of the last seven games.
“I thought it was a sprain or that’s what was communicated to me, so I was really just trying to play through it and suck it up,” Murray said Wednesday. “At the end of the season, I figured I’d get some rest, heal up and it’ll get better. But at that point it hadn’t and I wanted to get it checked up. That’s when I found out I had a bigger problem and needed surgery.”
But Murray, who has played 45 of 48 games in the last three seasons, has been through this before. Having suffereda similar injury and rehab on his left ankle as a rookie sixth-round pick in 2013 has given Murray some comfort as he transitionsfrom the Raiders to the Vikings.
“My rookie year I had the same injury on the other foot,” Murray said. “I’ve dealt with this rehab, I’ve dealt with this surgery. I think that’s been a benefit for me, because I’m feeling great, but I also knew what to expect. The rehab process has been really good.”
Murray, who is out of the walking boot and expects to be running unassisted again in about a week, said he’s not worried about a career setback due to the operation, having ran for all 2,278 career yards and 20 touchdowns after the similar operation four years ago.
“There was nothing I was afraid of that I thought I’d have a setback from,” Murray said. “I knew it because I’ve had it before and I knew that when I needed it before, it did nothing but benefit me and make me better. I’m just happy I figured out what it was and could get the problem fixed.”
This time around, he’s attempting a return in half the time. In 2013, Murray underwent arthroscopic surgery on his ankle in August and was placed on injured reserve before the season started. He said he made a full return about nine months later to the field when the Raiders offseason program began in 2014.
Both Murray and the Vikings expect him to be ready by training camp, or about four months after this ankle surgery. The Vikings could use the 6-foot-3 veteran to ease rookie Dalvin Cook’s transition, if needed, and have all hands on deck with Jerick McKinnon to revive the league’s worst running game from last season.
“When it’s time for training camp, then obviously that’s when the real battling is going to come in, preseason games,” Murray said. “That’s when everyone has to bring their best and separate themselves. I’m going to do everything I can like I have in the past to separate myself and I’m sure those guys are going to do the same.”