The Vikings signed Latavius Murray, a Pro Bowler for the Oakland Raiders in 2015, to a three-year contract and touted his potential to be a three-down back. But the new guy won’t just be handed the job. He must earn the lead role during training camp (and the preseason). Here’s the skinny on that battle and seven others to watch in Mankato.
Dalvin Cook vs. Latavius Murray
The Vikings picked up a pair of intriguing backs to try to replace Adrian Peterson. Cook, a speedy second-round draft pick, and Murray, who missed all of the team’s spring workouts after ankle surgery, will battle for playing time and touches. Jerick McKinnon could factor in, too.
Nick Easton vs. Pat Elflein
Easton, who started at center the final six games of last season, got most of the first-team reps during the spring, including all three days of minicamp. But when the pads come on, Elflein, whom the Vikings traded up to draft in the third round, should make an impression.
Taylor Heinicke vs. Case Keenum
The Vikings did not re-sign Shaun Hill, their second-string quarterback the past two seasons, and instead picked up Keenum, who will compete with third-year passer Taylor Heinicke to back up Sam Bradford. The X-factor here is Teddy Bridgewater, whose status remains unclear.
A few players duking it out
With Sharrif Floyd’s future in doubt, the Vikings likely will rely on a committee at the spot next to nose tackle Linval Joseph. Tom Johnson, Shamar Stephen, 2017 fourth-round pick Jaleel Johnson and free-agent additions Datone Jones and Will Sutton all are in the mix.
Edmond Robinson vs. Emmanuel Lamur
The Vikings must find a replacement at weakside linebacker after the retirement of Chad Greenway. Robinson and Lamur split first-team snaps pretty evenly at the minicamp. If neither seizes the job, a youngster such as Kentrell Brothers or Ben Gedeon could get a look.
Mackensie Alexander vs. Terence Newman
Perhaps the most interesting battle in Mankato will be at the important third cornerback spot. Alexander is a talented, headstrong 23-year-old, and Newman, the cool veteran, is somehow still going strong as his 39th birthday looms. This job is Alexander’s to lose.
Kai Forbath vs. Marshall Koehn
Forbath fared well after replacing Blair Walsh in 2016, making all of his field-goal attempts. Still, the Vikings brought in Koehn as legitimate competition and Koehn had a stronger spring. There is a showdown at punter, too, between Ryan Quigley and Taylor Symmank.
Rodney Adams vs. the field
Fifth-round pick Rodney Adams, who was a standout returner in college, is the favorite to replace All-Pro Cordarrelle Patterson. Alternatives include McKinnon and seventh-rounder Stacy Coley. Based on spring snaps, Adams will get every opportunity to run with this job.