MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. â€” Former Sweetwater High School athlete Joe Banyard, who now plays for the NFLâ€™s Minnesota Vikings, was his teamâ€™s leading rusher in a 30-28 come-from-behind preseason win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sat-urday.
Banyard â€” a 5-10, 205-yard running back who played collegiately at Texas-El Paso â€” rushed for 64 yards on six carries for the Vikings (2-0) and two receptions for 9 yards. His effort was highlighted by a 56-yard run â€” a career high in the profes-sional ranks â€” in the third quarter when he accounted for 70 of his teamâ€™s 89 yards on a nine-yard scoring drive that resulted in a field goal that cut Arizonaâ€™s lead to 21-16. He later had a pair of runs in a fourth-quarter scoring drive by the Vikings that gave them a temporary 24-21 lead. So far this preseason, Banyard has run 14 times for 86 yards while catching four passes for 22 yards.
Banyard is competing for a roster spot this year with Minnesota after spending most of the past two years on the Vikingsâ€™ practice squad, though he saw limited action in three games in 2013. He began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent with Jacksonville in 2012, and was also with the New Orleans Saints before signing with the Vikings.