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Vikings' Latavius Murray vows to carry his weight in two-back attack

Minnesota Vikings running back Latavius Murray (25) gains yardage against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field in Chicago on Oct. 9, 2017. The Vikings won 20-17. Patrick Gorski / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Wide receiver Stefon Diggs calls the Vikings' running attack a "two-headed monster." One of the monsters wants to improve his bite.

In their first game since rookie starter Dalvin Cook was lost for season with a torn ACL, Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon shared the running load in a 20-17 victory Monday, Oct. 9, at Chicago. Murray started and carried 12 times for 31 yards; McKinnon ran 16 times for 95 yards.

Murray wasn't happy with his performance.

"There were times where I was second-guessing myself a little bit and maybe I didn't have my feet under me," he said Thursday. "Other than that, I felt I ran the ball well, but I think there's a lot more I can improve on. I feel like I can be a lot better, and I will be a lot better."

Murray has high standards. He rushed for 1,066 yards and made the Pro Bowl for Oakland in 2015 and wants to return to that level. The five-year veteran signed a three-year, $15 million contract last March with the Vikings in March.

"I just know what I'm capable of," Murray said. "I'm just not satisfied; not disappointed or upset, just not satisfied with my level of play."

Murray, who had surgery to repair his right ankle on March 22 and didn't practice until Aug. 7, said his ankle is not a factor. After just 14 in the first four games, he believes he will get into a groove with more carries.

While Murray was sidelined, Cook, a second-round pick from Florida State, won the starting job. He ran for 354 yards on 74 attempts before being hurt in the third quarter a 14-7 loss to Detroit in Week 4.

"Back in training camp, I said we had a three-headed monster," Diggs said Thursday. "One of our guys went down, so now it's a two-headed monster. Either way, a monster is a monster. You've got to deal with it. ... They're going to have different running styles, but they both can get the job done."

There were no issues with the ferocity shown by McKinnon against the Bears. His big night included a 58-yard touchdown run and six receptions for 51 yards.

"He certainly performed extremely well," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said.

Shurmur said McKinnon got more carries against the Bears because he had the "hot hand." The back running better in Sunday's game against Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium again figures to get a greater number of attempts, as well.

"I'm just going to continue to make the most about what they give me," McKinnon said.

McKinnon said he gave everything he could with his touches against the Bears, and it showed. On Thursday he wore a bandage on his neck, the result of a cut sustained a hard hit by safety Adrian Amos following a 10-yard screen pass in the second quarter.

McKinnon broke free on his 58-yard run in the third quarter but for most of the night was quite willing to plow into defenders.

"I'm not going to run out of bounds," he said. "That's how I play the game. That's how I was brought up playing the game. If it's out of bounds or through somebody, I'm going to go through somebody."

McKinnon has 121 yards on 26 carries this season for a solid 4.7 average. Murray has 69 yards on 26 carries for a 2.7 average, well below his career mark of 4.2 entering the season.

He vows to bring that up.

"I do believe I'm explosive and capable of making explosive runs," Murray said. "I've just got to go out there and do it, honestly."

The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.

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