As Vikings running backs Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray trotted onto the practice field this week, Cook slowed down and said, “You ever hear of a one-two?”
Actually, it hasn’t been heard of a lot lately in the NFL.
Most teams have one workhorse running back. The New Orleans Saints were only NFL team last season with two backs who each rushed for 700 or more yards: Mark Ingram with 1,124 and Alvin Kamara with 728.
Cook and Murray could split a good bit of the rushing load this season. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said it’s too early to discuss how carries will be divided, but “they’ll both be factors.”
Cook and Murray figure that will be the case, so they’ve adopted “one-two” as a catch phrase.
“I think this thing got started as soon as I got back,” said Cook, who began training camp at full speed last month after recovering from a season-ending torn left ACL in October.
Cook opened last season as the starter, and the rookie had 354 yards rushing before injuring his knee in the third quarter of the fourth game.
Murray started slowly last season while working his way back from March 2017 ankle surgery. But he moved into the lineup after Cook’s injury and finished with 842 yards. His only season with more yards was in 2015 with the Oakland Raiders when he ran for 1,066 and made the Pro Bowl.
Cook has declared himself ready to go for this season, but the Vikings are moving him along slowly. He did not play in last weekend’s 42-28 victory at Denver in the preseason opener, and Zimmer won’t say if he will play Saturday against Jacksonville at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Cook likely will be the starter when the regular season begins, but Murray isn’t backing off. He had two 21-yard runs in four carries against the Broncos.
“We’ll see how this works out, but right now we’re just getting better,” Murray said. “Whoever is in there needs to make plays whether it’s me or him.”
Is there a chance the two could end up as the NFL’s best running-back duo? In addition to Ingram and Kamara, who also had 826 yards receiving last year, another good pairing can be found in Atlanta, where Devonta Freeman had 865 yards rushing last season and Tevin Coleman added 628.
“I’m not going to sit here and say we are, but we’re out there working to be the best,” said Murray, in his sixth season. “I think we definitely have the potential (to be the best), but that doesn’t mean anything if we don’t work to get better.”
Cook said the two can be “as good as we want to be” as a duo.
“I wouldn’t say that yet (about being the best),” he said. “We’ve got to put the work in. We’ve still got to play each game, and we’ve still got to go out there and compete. I won’t say that yet, but that’s our goal.”
While there certainly is competition between Murray, 28, and Cook, 23, there is no apparent tension. They regularly hang out together.
“He took me in as a little brother (last season), and that’s what I respect most about him,” Cook said. “The bond has just gotten stronger.”
However the carries shake out, the Vikings look to be in fine shape with two upper-echelon backs.
“They’re two great players,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “I think those guys are going to be fine. They’re good. I can’t judge where they’ll be at, but I imagine you’re going to have to know where they’re at on the field.”
Source: Twin Cities Pioneer Press | Chris Tomasson | August 18, 2018