Though the Minnesota Vikings agreed to a trade with the Los Angeles Rams for running back Cam Akers, team personnel insisted Thursday that they were still standing by starter Alexander Mattison. Instead of a replacement, the Vikings reportedly intend to use Akers as a complement to Mattison, giving both struggling runners a shared workload.

“But we haven’t lost confidence in Alex Mattison,” Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips told reporters Thursday. “I will say that. Unfortunately we’ve had a couple turnovers in the run game where we obviously need to clean that up. Everyone’s aware of that. But we still feel very strongly in Alex and [backup Ty Chandler] and those guys being able to go in and produce. We know we have to be better in the run game. A lot of that starts with us, and the players fundamentally. All those things we’ve addressed, and from what I saw [Wednesday] in the first practice, I think it will improve dramatically.”

In two games this season, Mattison has struggled to handle the workload of a bell-cow running back, rushing for 62 yards across two games. Akers has struggled even more, so much so that the Rams kept him off the field in Week 2 in favor of backup Kyren Williams. But the combination of the two backs in Minnesota is intended to give the two snaps that will benefit their strengths.

“That’s not a bad move at all,” Mattison said about the move for Akers. “In any situation, you want to make your team better. With the opportunity to do so, we definitely welcome whatever decision they might make up top. I’m excited to have an addition to the running back room. I think he can definitely add value.”


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Phillips, the offensive coordinator, also went on to echo Mattison’s comments that Akers would be a welcome presence in the locker room. He noted that the running back’s skill set could be useful to a Vikings offense which has disappeared at times in two losses to begin the season.

“He’s a downhill runner, a physical back, and he’s got good quickness,” Phillips said. “He’s proven he can catch the ball … we’re just excited to have him in here.”

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