MINNEAPOLIS — On the first play from scrimmage Sunday, Mike Boone flew through a big hole on the left side of the Minnesota Vikings offensive line to carry the ball for 59 yards.
The next, he drops a pitch in his bread basket to turn the ball over to Chicago.
In his first extended action at running back, he scored two touchdowns to maintain a rout of the Los Angeles Chargers.
The next game? Vikings fans would rather forget about that one.
With Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison on the shelf with injuries, Minnesota once again turned to Boone as lead back against the Bears. After dropping the pitch from Sean Mannion, Boone bobbled away a pass into the hands of the opposition on the following possession.
"My teammates were there for me the whole time. They did a good job at keeping me comfortable and settled in," Boone said. "I started off bad, but I tried to turn it around and fix those mistakes."
Head coach Mike Zimmer stuck with him, and Boone put up gaudy numbers: 148 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown, including four carries of more than 10 yards.
The second-year man has been up and down as he climbs the Minnesota running back depth chart, but he could end up as a dangerous third option in a three-headed Vikings running back timeshare.
Boone has the look of an impact runner, able to fight through arm tackles for extra yardage.
"When I first got here, I was asking Kirk (Cousins) about some guys on the team and he said, 'Just wait until you see Mike Boone with some pads on,'" Mannion said. "Of course, you don't really get to see him with the pads on until the preseason. He's done a great job in those reps, and in the Chargers game when he came in, he really just lit up. I think he's a dynamic, dynamic runner."
Cook is a top 5 running back in the NFL when healthy, equally at ease powering between the tackles and making defenders miss in the open field. Mattison has shown to be a perfect complement out of the backfield, able to hit holes quickly to help run opponents ragged.
With those two, a path to playing time on any team could be difficult. But this a Zimmer team, so the marching orders are in the style of Woody Hayes — pound the rock early and often, three yards and a cloud of dust.
Another running back who can cram the ball down the opponent's throat? I'm sure Boone will continue to find his way onto the field — provided he can hang on to the ball.