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Cook Chasing Henry's Lead; Can Pass Peterson & Smith in Vikings Ranks

Dalvin Cook enters Week 16 with a career-best 1,484 yards, but he's 195 shy of NFL rushing yardage leader Derrick Henry.

In attempting to defend his rushing crown, "King Henry" rumbled for another 147 yards Sunday, helping the Titans defeat the Lions.

Cook churned out an impressive 132 against the Bears as Minnesota remained committed to the run in trying to come back against Chicago, but he still fell further behind Henry.

The Florida natives have become friends and frequently talk. There's a mutual admiration between the former second-round picks.

Cook, who was tabbed 41st overall by Minnesota in 2017, recently credited the 45th overall pick of 2016 for the way he "just keeps elevating" his game.

"I've just got to try to get somebody to stop him," Cook said last week when asked about his own shot at becoming the first Viking to lead the NFL in rushing yards since Adrian Peterson did so with 1,485 in 2015.

Henry's final two games are at the Packers and Texans in Weeks 16 and 17, respectively, so that doesn't bode the greatest for Cook getting shutdown help.

Cook averaged 106.5 yards per game against the Packers and totaled 130 at Houston back in Week 4.

Minnesota's final two games of the 2020 regular season are at New Orleans on Friday and at Detroit on Jan. 3, 2021.

The Saints defense ranks fourth in the NFL with a stingy 95.6 rushing yards allowed per game and second with a downright Scrooge-y 3.79 rush yards allowed per attempt.

The Lions are quite the opposite, allowing 137.3 rushing yards per game (29th in the NFL) and 4.47 rushing yards per play (19th).

View photos of RB Dalvin Cook's second touchdown during the Vikings-Texans game on Sunday at NRG Stadium.

Tennessee's position atop the AFC South via tiebreaker over Indianapolis (10-4) makes it unlikely the Titans will rest Henry in Week 17, so all of those factors might be too much for Cook, who has played one fewer game, to overtake him.

There are some impressive rankings in the Vikings record book that Cook can still chase.

Cook's 1,484 yards entering Week 16 are the fifth-most in a Vikings season.

Only Adrian Peterson (three seasons) and Robert Smith (once) have had bigger years on the ground for Minnesota.

Peterson ranks first (2,097 in 2012), second (1,760 in 2008) and fourth (1,485 in 2015). Smith ranks third (1,521 in 2000).

Peterson won the rushing title in each of those seasons and set a Vikings record with 10 100-yard games in 2008 that he matched again in 2012. Smith had eight such performances in 2000.

Cook recorded his eighth of the season, along with his 15th rushing touchdown, which trails only Peterson's 18 in 2009 for the most in a Vikings season.

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak has seen plenty during his epic NFL career, including the rushing race between Denver's Terrell Davis and Atlanta's Jamal Anderson in 1998. Kubiak was the Broncos offensive coordinator when Davis rushed for 2,008 yards and Anderson finished second with 1,846 yards for Atlanta.

Davis totaled 1,801 rushing yards by Week 16 that season and carried a lead of 205 yards over Anderson heading into the final two games.

"Well, when you've been doing it as long as I have – I don't think you ever cease to amaze at some of these players and just how good they are," Kubiak said. "My career, I've seen some way back in the day. Unfortunately I'm getting that old, so I remember some of those guys. Now you watch these players and some of the things they're doing, whether they're quarterbacks, running backs. The season's 16 games long, and they're talking about it maybe getting even longer, so these numbers that some of these guys are putting up are really special.

"Watching Dalvin every week, getting a chance to coach him, watch [running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu] work with him, he's a special player," Kubiak added. "Obviously the other guy (Davis) you talked about speaks for itself. There's a lot of great players in this league, and if you're able to hold up over the long haul, they usually put up some pretty good numbers."

The chart below shows what Cook and Henry have done against common opponents, in the Week 3 game between the Vikings and Titans and against uncommon opponents this season. (* Note: Cook has played Green Bay and Chicago twice, and Henry has played Indianapolis and Jacksonville two times, so averages were used for per-game comparisons.)