Former Viking Back Just in Time for Super Bowl

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Timing is everything and a former Minnesota Vikings running back will be back just in time for back-to-back Super Bowl appearances — and perhaps victories.

He’s Jerick McKinnon, a man on deck to return from injured reserve in the nick of time.

Former Viking Back Just in Time for Super Bowl

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Saturday, eight days before Super Bowl LVIII, “A potential addition for the Super Bowl: Chiefs RB Jerick McKinnon has been designated to return off Injured Reserve. His practice window is open.”

Time for Super
Nov 19, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon (21) carries the ball during the third quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium. Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers meet in Las Vegas next week to decide a league champion, and McKinnon’s team is a two-point underdog. Kansas City chipped off the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and Baltimore Ravens en route to the big game, while the 49ers downed the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, an NFC North sampler platter.

In years past, McKinnon could be anything from RB1 to WR4 on a given Sunday for the Chiefs, a true Swiss Army knife commodity. Over the past two seasons, though, tailback Isaiah Pacheco emerged as a quasi-bellcow ball carrier, making McKinnon’s role a bit less vital. In the 12 games before the core and pelvic injury, McKinnon banked 252 yards from scrimmage. We shall see if he’s activated for the Super Bowl and puts a thumbprint on the game.

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Minnesota utilized McKinnon in various RB2 capacities from 2014 to 2017, a scatback who experienced playing time when injuries to Adrian Peterson and Dalvin Cook arose. And at the time, it seemed McKinnon had the talent to serve as a full-time RB1, mainly because of his speed.

The Chiefs tapped into McKinnon’s core strength in the last three seasons — speed. Kansas City traded all-world receiver Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins two years ago, and per wins and losses, did not miss a beat. Of course, McKinnon hasn’t seamlessly replaced Hill or anything of the sort, but contributors like him have helped fill the void. That — and an improved defense with better personnel because Kansas City can pay defenders with would-be Hill contract funds.

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In Minnesota, McKinnon tabulated 2,902 yards from scrimmage in 4 seasons, along with 12 touchdowns. He was a season-saver at times when big-name Vikings RBs hit the infirmary. Plus, Vikings loyalists always knew McKinnon was the real deal; he just wasn’t showcased as an RB1 because, well, Minnesota didn’t employ Any Reid or Patrick Mahomes.

McKinnon joined the San Francisco 49ers in 2018 — on a chunky contract — and promptly battled injuries. The man missed two full seasons in 2018 and 2019, if that can be believed. Next weekend, he’ll take on his other former team.

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No NFL team has repeated as champions since the New England Patriots in 2003-2004.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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