Early in his NFL career, Vikings running back Alexander Mattison became known for putting his track-and-field skills to use by hurdling defenders in games. This season, Mattison has added what he has learned from boxing to the football field.
Mattison, 23, in this third season with the Vikings, spent the offseason training in his hometown of San Bernardino, Calif., with good friend Rayshaun Thomas, a professional boxer. No, Mattison didn’t get hit or hit anybody but he said his overall training has been beneficial to his strength, stamina and mindset.
“It helps a lot, and even with the mental aspect,” Mattison said. “It’s kind of balancing the mental and the physical part.”
In Sunday’s game at Detroit, with Dalvin Cook sidelined with a shoulder injury, Mattison will make his third start of the season. In his first two starts, Mattison rushed for 112 yards in a 30-17 Minnesota win over Seattle on Sept. 26 and a career-high 113 yards in a 19-17 victory over the Lions on Oct. 10
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer obviously wouldn’t mind a similar output by Mattison in his second game this season against Detroit.
“He’s had a lot of times when he’s started, so we’ll just continue to try to get him the ball, and hopefully he continues that trend,” Zimmer said Friday after Cook was officially ruled out for the game.
Thomas plans to follow the action closely at a sports bar in San…