When it was all said and done, the 2016 NFL campaign proved to be a disappointment for the Minnesota Vikings in more ways than one. Just before the start of the season, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went down with a knee injury that has put his football career in jeopardy. Within the first few weeks, running back Adrian Peterson was hurt and proved to be pretty much a non-factor. And after starting the season 5-0, Mike Zimmer’s club dropped eight of their final 11 games to finish 8-8 and out of the playoffs. The team’s Ground Attack finished dead last in the league and the team opted not to bring back Peterson – the franchise’s all-time rushing leader.

But before you think otherwise, there’s lots of hope when it comes to the team’s running game this fall.

A couple of key additions

You will recall that thanks in part to the trade that brought quarterback Sam Bradford to the Twin Cities courtesy of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Minnesota Vikings did not have a first-round pick in April’s draft. No matter, because general manager Rick Spielman has already addressed the team’s running game in free agency. First, the club inked running back Latavius Murray. He apparently wasn’t in the plans for the Oakland Raiders in 2017 -- despite leading the team in rushing in each of the past two seasons and scoring a club-high 12 touchdowns in ’16.

In the second round of the draft, Spielman made a move up to the 41st spot and took Florida State running back Dalvin Cook.

The young performer comes off a monster showing with the Seminoles, totaling 48 touchdowns in three years and 38 contests with the team. In 2016, Cooks ran for 1,765 yards and 19 scores, and caught 33 passes for 488 yards and one touchdown. He’s now part of a new-look backfield that still includes Jerick McKinnon, but no Matt Asiata, as he recently signed with the division-rival Detroit Lions.

Help up front as well

Let’s not forget that Spielman also addressed the team’s shaky offensive line play this offseason as well. There will be a pair of new starting tackles for the Minnesota Vikings in free-agent additions Riley Reiff (Lions) and Mike Remmers (Carolina Panthers). In the draft, Ohio State center Pat Elflein was chosen in the first round and could vie for a starting job.

If this team’s offense is to bounce back from a season in which that unit scored a mere 29 touchdowns, there has to be some balance and support for Bradford, and that means solid years from both Murray and Cook, as well as a bounce back year from the big guys up front.

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