GREEN BAY – Off on Sunday, the Packers naturally watched their Week 2 opponent, the Vikings, very closely.
What they saw, particularly from Minnesota’s offense, surprised them a little bit.
A trio of Vikings running backs combined for 32 carries while quarterback Kirk Cousins threw just 10 passes in a 28-12 victory over the Falcons that was much more lopsided than the final score would indicate.
Always known for his swarming defense, Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer has been pushing to develop a run-first offense and probably would love to play every game like Sunday’s. Whether that approach continues in Week 2 at Lambeau Field will be up to the Packers clamping down on third-year running back and emerging star Dalvin Cook.
“He ran behind his pads really well,” defensive lineman Kenny Clark said of Cook, who powered Minnesota’s offense with 21 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns. “He got to the edge and got out. The other running back, (Alexander) Mattison, he did a great job. Offensive line, they look pretty quick off the ball. They pulled them a lot, got them out into space.
“It’s a lot different Minnesota team as far as the run game is concerned than last year.”
Mattison, a rookie third-round pick from Boise State, added nine carries for 49 yards for a ground game the Falcons could not handle. The flow of the game also dictated the grind-it-out style, as the Vikings took a 21-0 lead with just under five minutes left in the first half.
From that point on, Cousins attempted just three passes. The Falcons never closed the gap, so they never forced the Vikings to do anything else.
“It’s crazy to kind of see how they’ve switched since last year,” linebacker Blake Martinez said after the Packers conducted a short practice Monday following their weekend off. “I feel like last year they passed the ball a ton. It’s going to be another tough test for us, especially the front seven to stop the run game and make sure we’re on our P’s and Q’s with fundamentals.”