The Vikings know that Artose Pinner can be a productive running back from scrimmage. He proved it in the one game he started against his former team, the Detroit Lions, a year ago. In his lone start last season he rushed for 125 yards on 29 carries with 3 touchdowns. But the Vikings want to make sure he won’t hurt them in any phase of the game should they need to rely on him at some point during the season.
One thing that has helped Pinner is having been with the Vikings from the very beginning of this season, as opposed to joining them mid-stream like he did a year ago.
“Yeah, Artose is a guy that we talk about every night,” head coach Brad Childress said. “He has gotten better in the pass protection stuff. You've got to remember he came to us last year game three or game four before Detroit so he misses all of training camp and he doesn't get to go through any OTAs or anything like that. So we know what he does with the football in his hand, but he has gotten better and better in the pass game.”
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell also emphasized the mental aspect of the game when discussing Pinner.
“Any time that you put a player in there and he continually does it the right way and continually does it the way that we ask him to, that is what builds confidence in us,” Bevell said. “These guys would not be here if they didn’t have the skills and ability to play at this level, but it is being detailed in their performance and doing it right every time. Artose, being in the system a little longer than some of the other guys, he is starting to show that and he is starting to flash for us.”
With Peterson and Chester Taylor missing some time with minor injuries, and Mewelde Moore having his first child during training camp, Pinner has gotten a few more opportunities than he originally might have. He’s made the most of them during training camp.
“I’ve been getting a little more reps since from the first day of camp,” Pinner said. “They just have given me opportunities, and I seem to have taken advantage of them so they decided to give me some more. I feel like I’m doing pretty well as long as I’m not making any mistakes, stay sound in my assignments and not give them a reason not to give me any more plays.”
If you scan the depth charts of other teams around the league, you aren’t likely to find many running backs with the experience, productivity and dependability of an Artose Pinner running No. 4 on their depth charts. The Vikings have great depth at running back.