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NOTEBOOK: Cook Explains Favorite Play from Sunday's Win

Posted Sep 25, 2017

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Dalvin Cook racked up 169 yards of total offense Sunday against the Buccaneers, breaking loose for a 26-yard run and also rumbling 36 yards on a swing pass.

Surely one of those plays was his favorite from the 34-17 win, right?

How about his first career touchdown on a 1-yard dive?

Nope, guess again. 

The Vikings rookie running back met with the media Monday and said his favorite play was one where he never touched the ball.

Instead, Cook stepped up to block All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to help the Vikings connect on a 17-yard pass play on the opening play of the second quarter.

The play initially called for quarterback Case Keenum to fake a handoff to Cook, but the running back had to abort the play action to jump up in the pocket and move McCoy out of his quarterback’s way.

“That was my play of the game, right there. I got to block Gerald,” Cook said. “I seen him bust through, and I was like, ‘You gotta drop your weight down, because he’s coming.’

“I kind of got in the way a little bit, trying to get him off the spot so Case could have room to throw the ball,” Cook added. “Pass protection is all about will and wanting to get it done, and I just wanted to keep Case up and wanted him to throw the football, so I had to stand in the way.”

Besides exceling in pass protection, an area Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has repeatedly mentioned as the toughest for a rookie running back to pick up, Cook has also held his own on the ground. 

The second-round pick tallied 97 yards on 27 carries Sunday against Tampa Bay, and is second in the NFL with 288 rushing yards through three games.. 

“It’s good to always have a good running game for a team,” said Cook, who is averaging 4.7 yards per carry. “There aren’t any good teams that aren’t going to have a good running game.

“You’ve got to be able to run the ball to open up the passing game, so I think the O-line is doing a good job of opening up holes for us to run,” Cook added.

Zimmer said he’s excited to watch Cook grow throughout his rookie season.

“I have high expectations for him, I think he’s going to be a great player,” Zimmer said. “Some of the things he does, the hole might be this big and he can get skinny and pick his feet up and accelerate through there.

“You don’t get a lot of clean shots on this guy. He’s got a lot of wiggle to him, acceleration,” Zimmer added. “There was one play he kind of got through the line and the safety came up and he missed him. When he gets close to the goal line, he smells that and he’s trying to punch it in there. That’s what I like him the most.”

Cook did find the end zone Sunday, plunging in from a yard out for his first career score. If Cook has his way, there will be plenty more to come.

“It was good that I finally got in the end zone,” Cook said. “It was good … my first touchdown in the NFL. I got a taste of it, so there’s more where that came from.”

Thielen, Diggs among league leaders at WR

Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs currently rank second and third in the NFL in receiving yards. 

Not bad for a former rookie tryout guy and fifth-round pick, respectively. 

Thielen, who was undrafted out of Minnesota State University, Mankato, has 299 receiving yards on 19 receptions. Diggs, a former standout at Maryland, has 293 yards and leads the NFL with four touchdown catches. (The league leader in receiving yards, Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, was a sixth-round pick).

But even as they sit atop the NFL, Thielen said Monday that he and Diggs are more focused about the Vikings 2-1 record than personal accolades. 

“We don’t really care much about it. We’re trying to win games,” Thielen said. “It’s tough to win games in this league, so obviously it’s great because it means we’re helping our team win games.

“That’s obviously a positive, but if we were 0-3 right now, those stats would mean absolutely nothing,” Thielen added.

Thielen and Diggs each tallied over 900 receiving yards in 2016 with a combined eight touchdowns.

They are the first set of teammates to be in the top three in receiving yards after three weeks of a season since Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt with St. Louis in 2000.

Rhodes ready for his weekly challenge

First came Michael Thomas of New Orleans, followed by Brown and then Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans.

Xavier Rhodes was a major part of the Vikings limiting Thomas to 45 yards, Brown to 62 and Evans to 67 yards.

The Vikings cornerback is used to matching up against the opponent’s top wide receiver.

“I just take pride in doing my job,” Rhodes said. “I just come each and every week and do my job.

“Once I’m given my assignment, I do it to the best of my abilities,” Rhodes added.

This week, Rhodes could match up often with Lions wide receiver Golden Tate.

Tate has 21 catches for 190 yards and a touchdown through three games for the 2-1 Lions.

Morgan makes first NFL start 

When David Morgan trotted onto the field for the first play of Sunday’s win, it marked the first time he had been in for the opening play in 15 career games.

The Vikings tight end could only cackle Monday when asked about notching his first start. 

“Technically, I did,” Morgan said with a laugh. “It will go down as a start, yes. But the first play of the game happened to be 12 [personnel] (a formation with one running back and two tight ends), so I got my first start.

“I didn’t even know it counted as a start, but I guess it does,” Morgan said.

Morgan played 30 snaps (41 percent) against Tampa Bay after getting in for 25 combined snaps in the first two games.

The former sixth-round pick said he’s willing to do the grunt work to help the Vikings move the chains on the ground and in the air.

“It’s going good. I’ve adapted well, obviously playing a little bit more,” Morgan said of his role. “Just looking forward to contributing more and more and getting better each week.

“Tight end in itself, you’re asked to do a lot — stay in and protect the quarterback, run routes, run block — it’s one of those positions where you’re asked to do the hard stuff.”