“It was a great opportunity for Mike and Ameer and ‘Hammer’ to get in there and get some carries,” Mannion said. “I think when I first got here, I was asking Kirk [Cousins] kind of about some of the guys on the team. He said, ‘Wait ’til you see Mike Boone with the pads on.’
“Of course, you don’t really get to see him with the pads on until the preseason,” Mannion continued. “He’s done a great job in those reps. … I think he’s a dynamic, dynamic runner. He did a lot of good stuff out there.”
Boone, who is listed at 5-foot-10 and 206 pounds, called it “tons of fun” to shoulder much of the load with Cook and Alexander Mattison both inactive.
“It just excites me when I see the offensive line working as hard as they work,” he said. “When I can come in and score a touchdown to reward them, as well as the defense, it feels pretty good.”
The Vikings lost a close one to the Bears, falling 21-19 at home. Because Minnesota was locked into the No. 6 seed in the playoffs, however, a majority of its starters did not play.
That opened the door for multiple younger players to play the entirety of the game, including linebacker Eric Wilson and defensive end Stephen Weatherly. Both have played on defense throughout the season when stepping in for injured teammates (Wilson) or as part of a position rotation (Weatherly), but Sunday marked a full load for each of them.
“I think it’s good,” said Wilson. “We clinched, so some guys may be banged up, other guys may just need a little rest. I think it’s a good idea. Everybody always stays ready.”
Weatherly added that it’s “all about keeping guys fresh” at this point of the season.
“For us to be able to give a good chunk of guys the time to recoup and get their bodies right, and give some young guys opportunities to show what they have, so [Head Coach Mike Zimmer] has more weapons for the playoffs – it’s a win-win for all parties,” Weatherly said.
Wilson made his presence known against a Chicago offense that stuck with its starters.
He finished the day with 12 tackles (press box stats), 1.0 sack of Mitchell Trubisky, two tackles for loss and a quarterback hit.