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Monday Morning Mailbag: Murray's Fit, Kick Return Duty, More

Posted Mar 19, 2017

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There seems to be some Vikings fans who are not satisfied with the Vikes signing Latavius Murray. I explained to them he can run and catch out of the backfield. He can also block. Then I asked them what more did they want the Vikes to do? My question to you is: What did you think of the signing? I like it myself.
-- Sam Johnson
Philadelphia, PA

There is a lot to like about what Murray brings to the table. He has a great size speed combination, measuring in at approximately 6-3, 230 pounds and having clocked a 4.38 time in the 40-yard dash at his pro day. He has not been overworked in his four-year career (543 career carries) but he’s been productive, with a 1,000-yard season in 2015 and a 12-touchdown season in 2016. I also like that he has 74 reception over the past two seasons because it tells me he can be used on any of the three downs. He’s just 27 years old and I think he’s motivated to take the next step in his career.

I know we still have the draft and more free agency to go, but as of this moment who do you think is returning kickoffs next season?
-- Sammy Hall

It’s likely the Vikings will add players via the draft and free agency who could compete for this role, but as for the guys currently on the roster I’d guess Jerick McKinnon, Marcus Sherels and Adam Thielen could all be candidates.

Thanks for all you do. On SNF and MNF, networks promote their games with player faces. Green Bay versus Denver is Rodgers versus (Von) Miller. Dallas vs Washington is Dak v. Cousins. Whose face would be selected for a Vikings game? Sam? Hitman? Xavier?  Everson? Does it matter that we have lost a meaningful part of our identity with Adrian Peterson (who admittedly hasn’t played much in the last three years) gone? Our lineup looks very “lunch pail” and lacking in lightening and leadership. What say you?
-- Peter
Orlando

The lunch pail mentality without an individual who stands above the rest is probably one coach Zimmer would find appealing. Most analysts who opine on the Vikings insinuate the team’s identity is its defense, and a defensive identity naturally lends itself to less of an individualized mentality and more toward that of a team mentality. So maybe when a television network needs to create an identity for the Vikings, they’ll need to include several defensive players in the montage.

With the signing of Datone Jones, is the defense moving toward a 3-4 defense or getting depth at defensive end with Brian Robison nearing the end of his career?
-- Michael Brown

Unless coach Zimmer has a surprise up his sleeve, I haven’t seen anything that’s indicated the Vikings are moving to a 3-4 as their base defensive front. I’m not even certain Jones will play defensive end in the Vikings defense because he could be a guy the Vikings kick inside to play defensive tackle. Jones combination of athleticism and size/strength could make him a solid contributor at three technique.

There are lots of opinions about Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers. The best one I heard is they are ready to play. Too many top offensive line prospects play in a spread offense. They need to be coached up to be ready to play. People are complaining that Remmers was beaten by Von Miller in the Super Bowl. Who wasn't? What are your thoughts?
-- Gerald Goblirsch

I agree that an ancillary benefit of the Reiff and Remmers signing is that any offensive tackle the Vikings draft this year won’t have to be thrust into the starting lineup at the beginning of the season. But that benefit is secondary to the fact that the Vikings signed two starting offensive tackles and have upgraded what was a top priority for them entering this offseason. I’ve received some pushback from those who were looking for the Vikings to sign an offensive tackle with a more recognizable name than Remmers, but let’s remember this is a guy who started 42 consecutive games for a team that went 15-1 in 2015 and advanced to the Super Bowl that season.