EAGAN — In baseball terms, Mike Boone is 2-for-2 in preseason games.
In each of the Minnesota Vikings victories to open the exhibition schedule he has been an impact player, totaling 25 carries for 136 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and one 45-yard catch.
“I worked hard this offseason, I worked on speed, power, that’s showing on the field,” Boone said following his strong performance Sunday night.
But with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison far ahead on the depth chart, head coach Mike Zimmer said it won’t be his preseason rushing performances, rather his special teams work that makes the difference.
“I think for guys like him, and I thought he did a good job on special teams, so for guys like him—these backup tight ends, backup wide receivers, backup running backs, backup DB’s, backup linebackers—they need to play special teams if they want to make the team,” Zimmer said. “I was impressed by what he did in special teams probably more so than running back.”
Boone made the team out of camp last season and saw 11 carries for 47 yards during the regular season. But the Vikings not only elected to draft Mattison in the third round, they also brought back Ameer Abdullah, who signed in Minnesota midway through 2018.
Mattison has impressed the Vikings to the point that he’s played all the first team reps during the preseason games (with Dalvin Cook sitting out). The door for Boone remains open as Abdullah did not play Sunday, presumably with an injury. He also left practice with what appeared to be a shoulder injury on Wednesday. His status for Saturday’s game against Arizona is unclear.
Abdullah was largely brought back for his return ability but Zimmer said he could see Boone getting some chances to return. The former Cincinnati has also shown some ability to line up as a wide receiver, where he played in high school.
“Just show some versatility, show you can line up wide, catch the ball or even block for the receivers outside and add another dynamic to what I do,” he said. “I’m trying to showcase what I can showcase, put my best foot forward and when my number is called, I try to make the plays.”
While the value of the preseason in the Vikings’ decision making isn’t high, there are some players who the coaching staff wants to see in different roles/positions. Boone may be one of those players.
“Consistency, just turn around and do the same thing next week,” Boone said when asked what he needed to show coaches.