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Jerick McKinnon ready 'to be the guy' moving forward

The Minnesota Vikings' season ended Sunday. Jerick McKinnon's time on the roster might have concluded then, too.

The running back, who had his best year as a pro this past season, is ready to be a bell cow. With Latavius Murray still under contract and budding star Dalvin Cook (who began jogging Monday, per the team's website) expected to make a full recovery from an ACL injury, McKinnon spoke like a man Monday who sees the writing on the wall when it comes to his future in the Vikings' backfield.

"I want to be the guy," McKinnon, who's set to be a free agent this offseason, told reporters, via ESPN. "I don't put in all the work in the offseason to come back and be in this role. I appreciate the role. It worked out well, but I want bigger and better things for myself."

While it might be easy for some in purple to justify McKinnon's likely departure, given the way Cook looked prior to his injury and the way Murray ran as a change-of-pace back, McKinnon's spark in Minnesota's offense shouldn't be understated.

He had career-highs in rushing yards (570), total touchdowns (five), receiving yards (421) and catches (51). He was one of the few Vikes to find success in the NFC Championship Game, leading the team in rushing and receiving yards.

Change is coming for a Vikings team that fell just one game short of the Super Bowl. Their offensive coordinator is off to New York. The quarterback situation still needs to be figured out. Now it appears one of their top playmakers in 2017 will be on a new squad when the season kicks off in the fall.

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