The Vikings went with the backfield’s hot hand Monday night in Chicago, but at least for one game that hand did not belong to Latavius Murray — the night’s starter.
Murray carried 12 times for 31 yards against the Bears in his first start for the Vikings, and the team’s first game after Dalvin Cook’s knee surgery. Once Jerick McKinnon escaped for a 58-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, however the ball went McKinnon’s more often than Murray’s.
“I think for the most part, I ran well, but I think there were times I was second-guessing myself a little bit, maybe,” Murray said. “I didn’t have my feet under me, but other than that, I felt I ran the ball well. But I think still, there’s a lot more I can improve on. I can be a lot better, and I will be a lot better.”
Murray entered the game as the Vikings’ lead back, getting the offense’s first snap and outpacing McKinnon in first-half carries. But Murray’s playing time eroded as Mc-Kinnon stacked up effective plays during the second half.
“It’s going to start with me and what I do with my carries,” said Murray, who is averaging 2.7 yards on 26 carries this season. “I’ll be better, and so, I have confidence that if I’m playing better, I’ll get more opportunities.”
McKinnon could get the first carry Sunday against the Green Bay Packers after churning out 95 rushing yards and another 51 receiving yards against the Bears. Murray figures to still be involved, but said he needs to show more.
“I know what I’m able to do. I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed; I’m just not satisfied,” Murray said. “I’ve got to continue to work and get better, so I can do more.”
Bradford still out
Quarterback Sam Bradford was held out of practice again Thursday, slimming his chances of playing Sunday against the Packers. Case Keenum appears in line for his fourth start in Minnesota.
Three other Vikings starters — receiver Stefon Diggs, guard Nick Easton and safety Andrew Sendejo — were again unable to practice Thursday. Diggs said this specific groin injury isn’t as severe as the injury that hampered him early last season, but he’s trying to take care of his body “a little better than I usually do.”
Linebacker Eric Kendricks was limited again Thursday because of a shoulder injury.
Best in the red zone
No other NFL team scores more points inside their opponent’s 20-yard line — or more touchdowns — than the Packers have through five games. Something will have to give in the red zone Sunday. The Vikings defense ranks fourth by allowing a touchdown on only 38.5 percent of opponent red-zone drives, per Football Outsiders.
“There’s a reason,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said. “[Aaron Rodgers] is doing a good job of checking them into the right play, understanding what teams are trying to do against them, the leverage of the routes down there. The scramble rules are still in effect. He does a lot of good things down there.”
‘23 looked good’
Ex-Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is now on his third team in less than a year after the Saints traded him to the Cardinals this week for a conditional late-round pick. But for the first time in Peterson’s 11-year career, he’ll wear a number other than No. 28.
McKinnon likes the new look.
“It’s a business, that’s how it goes,” McKinnon said. “I did start to text him that 23 looked pretty good on him, so we’ll see.”