MANKATO, Minn. — Latavius Murray was finally on the practice field in purple. Riley Reiff was back to work, too.
And with that, two of the Minnesota Vikings’ most important offseason additions started to come back from concerning injuries.
Murray was activated from the physically unable to perform list on Monday and practiced with the Vikings for the first time since he was signed in March, pledging to plow forward after falling behind rookie Dalvin Cook in the race for the team’s starting running back spot.
“It was a big relief,” said Murray, who missed the Vikings’ workouts all spring and the first 10 days of training camp after having surgery on his right ankle. “I’m excited and just want to keep continuing to work, work hard and get back to where I need to be.”
Reiff, the veteran left tackle signed away from Detroit to shore up one of the team’s biggest weaknesses, had missed most of training camp with a back injury. Both he and Murray participated in individual drills on Monday and sat out the team portion of practice that included more contact.
“It’s frustrating not being out there with the guys,” Reiff said. “I’m happy I’m out there today and moving forward.”
Coach Mike Zimmer had characterized Reiff’s absence as precautionary, but he was more forceful last week when he spoke about Murray’s need to get on the field and make up for lost time. Murray knows that Cook, the second-round draft pick out of Florida State, has taken an early lead in the race just by virtue of his availability.
“They’ve seen a lot of him. He’s been on the field. He’s been playing,” Murray said of Cook. “He deserves everything that he has right now. I have to prove to the coaches and the team that I’m able to still go out there and perform at a high level. Today was just the start toward that direction.”
Zimmer said it was too soon to evaluate each player’s recovery given that they only participated on a limited basis on Monday. The Vikings open the preseason on Thursday in Buffalo, and it seems unlikely that either player would play.
Murray said he still feels some pain in his ankle, but likened it to the normal soreness any player feels after two weeks of training camp. He was not ready to say when he would be cleared for contact in practice or games.
“It’s been a while and then obviously this was my first time practicing with this new team,” Murray said. “A lot of emotions there, but, again, the majority of it just excited to be back on the field.”