Vikings Snap Counts: Sorting out a Cook-less backfield

The Minnesota Vikings’ ground game has centered around Dalvin Cook for months.

The rookie seized the starting job in training camp thanks to his own talents and an ankle injury that sidelined Latavius Murray throughout the Vikings’ offseason program.

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He was on pace for one of the best seasons for a rookie running back in Vikings history before tearing his left ACL in the Vikings’ 14-7 loss to the Detroit Lions.

But can the Vikings’ offense reach the same heights without their dynamic lead back?

At the very least, they’ll have to make some major changes.

The Vikings may carry three competent running backs, but Cook dominated the workload through the first four weeks of the season.

In Week 3, his final full game as the starter, he out-touched Murray and McKinnon a combined 27-4 in a huge win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, appearing on 73 percent of the Vikings’ offensive snaps.

Cook appeared on at least 50 percent of the Vikings’ offensive snaps in Weeks 1-3, while Murray and McKinnon were averaging workloads of eight percent and 23.6 percent, respectively.

If the Vikings’ preference is to favor one back over a committee, Murray certainly seems to fit the bill over McKinnon after signing a three-year, $15 million contract in free agency.

Murray played 25 snaps to McKinnon’s 10 once Cook left the game Sunday and would appear — based on his build and status within the organization — to be the clear-cut choice to seize the rookie’s role as an every-down back.

However, that doesn’t really gel with Murray’s body of work thus far.

He had 266 carries during his second season with the Oakland Raiders, averaging an even four yards per touch while rushing for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns.

The Raiders moved towards a committee approach last year, pairing Murray with DeAndre Washington and speedster Jalen Richard.

His averages stayed the same, but Murray thrived in the red zone, scoring 11 of his 12 touchdowns from fewer than 20 yards out.

There aren’t any easy answers here, but it seems like a Murray/McKinnon timeshare is coming.

Other notes from Sunday’s snap counts:

— For the third time in four games every starter on the Vikings’ offensive line played on every snap, a relief for a group that couldn’t stay on the field last season.

— Cornerback Trae Waynes was on the field for all but one of the defensive snaps against a pass-happy Lions offense, his largest workload of the season.

— Fellow cornerback Xavier Rhodes appeared on all of the offensive snaps for the first time this season.

OFFENSE – WEEK 4

PLAYER Plays (56) %
Reiff 56 100%
Remmers 56 100%
Berger 56 100%
Easton 56 100%
Keenum 56 100%
Elflein 56 100%
Rudolph 55 98%
Thielen 55 98%
Diggs 48 86%
Cook 27 48%
Treadwell 25 45%
Murray 19 34%
Morgan 18 32%
Bell 12 21%
McKinnon 10 18%
Ham 7 12%
Wright 4 7%

DEFENSE — WEEK 4

PLAYER Plays (70) %
Sendejo 70 100%
Barr 70 100%
Kendricks 70 100%
Smith 70 100%
Rhodes 70 100%
Waynes 69 99%
Griffen 60 86%
Hunter 58 83%
Johnson 43 61%
Joseph 43 61%
Robison 40 57%
Stephen 35 50%
Newman 32 46%
Gedeon 19 27%
Alexander 19 27%
Kearse 1 1%
Brock 1 1%