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The Minnesota Vikings will have the run game as the staple of its offense that sets everything else up this year and the pieces are in place to be successful in that regard and it will go a long way in helping their newly-minted franchise quarterback. As we get closer to the start of training camp at the end of July, our series of five questions for each position group continues to roll along with our look this time coming at running back.

Will the run game pick up where it left off from last year?

The Vikings entered last season in an interesting position in terms of its rushing attack. The offensive line was horrible in 2016 and did not open many holes to run through. It also was the last season that Adrian Peterson wore a purple uniform, so a natural changing of the guard was set to take place. Minnesota addressed the running game with some additions in free agency and added a former starting back into the mix in Latavius Murray, who was expected to be the No. 1 guy. Then, a first round talent in Dalvin Cook wound up being selected in the second round and all of the sudden, the backfield had a very different look.

Cook was every bit as good as advertised early on in 2017 as a rookie, but tore his ACL in the fourth game of the year. Murray and Jerick McKinnon picked up the slack immensely and the Vikings would finish as the seventh-best team in the league in that regard at 122.3 yards per game. McKinnon is now with the San Francisco 49ers, so there is a void to be filled there, but this team is looking to pick up from where we last saw them and perhaps even surpass it. The biggest variable in all of that lies in our next question.

Can Dalvin Cook stay healthy?

Part of the reason that Cook slipped in the draft was due to durability concerns with his shoulders. Obviously, that was not what wound up ailing him in 2017, but heading into this year we find ourselves asking if he is going to be the same guy. Unfortunately, Vikings fans are all too familiar with knee injuries, but they have seen results on both sides of the equation. Peterson once came off of a torn ACL and won an MVP the following season, while Teddy Bridgewater was never quite able to regain his old job after nearly losing his leg a few years back.

The early returns on Cook's rehab have been extremely positive and the Vikings have been adding to his workload more and more throughout the offseason. They will continue to be cautious as the regular season gets closer, but it does not appear that he has had any setbacks in his road back to this point.

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Could Cook be a sleeper candidate for MVP?

Should Cook come back healthy and more of the player that we saw before he went down with the injury, this is a guy that could be worth keeping an eye on as a sleeper candidate for the MVP award. He may be the early favorite to win Comeback Player of the Year, but his fit in the offensive scheme that John DeFilippo will coordinate is almost too perfect as a guy who can run and catch passes out of the backfield.

Kirk Cousins may be the most important player on the offense as a quarterback, but he is the type of guy that thrives when everyone around him does. If Cook is able to stay healthy and maintain a full workload, he has the type of talent to emerge as one of the NFL's best offensive playmakers.

Could Latavius Murray have to carry the load again?

A scenario also exists where the injuries for Cook continue and the Vikings are back in the same position they found themselves in last year. The good news is that they have a more than capable back as their "1b" in Murray. He has a nose for the endzone and proved in Cook's absence last year that he can handle the workload as the lead back, which was perhaps the original plan for him when he signed with the Vikings.

Who will be the third running back?

This will be one of the most fun battles to watch in training camp with the need to fill that third running back role still to be determined. Undrafted rookies Roc Thomas and Mike Boone are the two names to watch, along with Mack Brown and potentially even C.J. Ham, who stuck on the roster last year as a fullback. Depth is going to be extremely important at this position with what Cook is dealing with, so there is an immediate storyline and perhaps the biggest one heading into camp and the preseason.

More: Five Questions for Vikings Quarterbacks