Undrafted rookie RB Mike Boone primed to make Vikings’ 53-man roster

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mike Boone was disappointed at not being selected in the NFL draft last April. Four months later, he’s on the verge of making a regular-season roster.

After four preseason games, it would be a surprise if the rookie from Cincinnati doesn’t make the Vikings’ 53-man roster when it’s finalized Saturday, Sept. 1.

In Thursday night’s 13-3 victory over the Titans at Nissan Stadium, Boone rushed for 56 yards on 15 carries, bringing his team-leading rushing total in the preseason to 195 yards on 49 carries.

“That’s out of my control, but I feel like I just showcased what I could do, and hopefully I left a good impression on the guys that make those (roster) decisions,” Boone said.

It’s looking like an easy decision for the Vikings’ brass.

Roc Thomas ran for 131 yards from scrimmage in the preseason opener at Denver but didn’t do much after that. Thomas carried four times for 12 yards on Thursday before being lost to an ankle injury in the second quarter.

Mack Brown, a third-year veteran, entered training camp as perhaps the favorite for the No. 3 spot behind Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, but he missed the final three preseason games. Brown practiced this week but didn’t travel to Tennessee, and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wouldn’t provide a reason.

Cook and Murray both took Thursday off; that gave Murray a chance to watch Brown closely.

“He runs hard,” Murray said. “He causes a lot of missed tackles. And did you see his speed on the screen there?”

Boone caught two passes for 53 yards, including a 46-yarder in the fourth quarter.

“It was off a screen play,” Boone said. “The offensive line got out and chopped those dudes down and it was green grass, and I just hit it.”

Boone also complimented the line for his running performance.

“I felt like I did pretty solid,” he sad. “Give credit to the offensive line. Those guys went out and opened up the holes and I did the easy part, just hitting them.”

Boone, though, gave himself credit for pass protection. He said that was one of the primary areas he wanted to work on after signing with the Vikings before a May 4-6 rookie mini-camp.

“They didn’t blitz too much (Thursday), but I did have one or two, and I picked those up pretty good. So, I thought it was A-plus blitz protection,” Boone said.

Zimmer wasn’t ready to give that sort of grade for Boone’s overall performance. He noted after the game that Boone had a false-start penalty. Overall, though, the coach was pleased with how Boone ran the ball in the preseason.

“He’s hard to bring down when he’s got the ball in his hands,” Zimmer sad. “He goes for extra yards, so I thought he showed well all preseason.”

Boone had plenty of incentive. He was disappointed at not being drafted last April, but believes he has shown now that he should have been.

“Hopefully, I did,” he said. “My goal was just to run hard and turn heads, and hopefully I did.”

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