EAGAN, Minn. — Will Dalvin Cook be the recipe for the Vikings this week, or will he remain on the kitchen shelf?
The running back last played — sparingly — against the Rams in Week 4 at Los Angeles.
The second-year pro has 36 carries for 98 yards and nine receptions for 107 yards this season but has been hampered by a hamstring injury suffered at Green Bay in Week 2 and is eager to return.
The Vikings (4-3-1) are set to host the Lions (3-4) on Sunday before going on their bye, which makes the decision on whether or not to play Cook more interesting. He did not participate in any practice last week and has been “limited” in the first two sessions of this week.
“I feel great. I know y’all are going to ask me if I’m playing, but I’ve been practicing all week,” Cook said Thursday. “You’ll have to ask Coach Zim’ if I’m playing. I feel great, confident, and at myself right now. They got me back to where I need to be, so I’ve just got to keep striving and stacking the days.”
Cook noted that it is impossible to replicate a game in practice.
“The tweaking and turning your body and getting tackled, we don’t tackle in practice, so you’ll never know,” Cook said. “That’s the decision Coach Zimmer has to make.
“You could practice, run around, run straight, but it’s about going out there and the person chasing you and turning your body and twisting your body,” he added. “That’s when hamstrings occur. My body got torqued around, and that’s what happened.”
Cook was asked if having the bye next week might factor in the decision of whether he plays.
“That’s a plus. It’s crazy where the bye week fell,” he said. “That’s going to be a plus. Whatever decision we make, that’s going to be a plus.”
Cook said he’s “confident in our medical staff, because they’ve got the right plan set up for me.”
“I’ve really been going by what they have for me daily, and my body has been reacting to it good,” said Cook, who was able to develop trust while rehabbing the ACL injury he suffered against Detroit just four games in to his promising rookie campaign.
The all-time leading rusher in Florida State history said it’s been an adjustment to be sidelined.
“Not playing is something new to me,” Cook said. “It’s a learning tool. I’ve just been learning through the whole process, getting knowledge from my teammates, all of the older guys, guys in my room have been pushing me through it. I’m trying to become a better player and better person. That’s what I’ve been getting through the whole experience.”
Through four games, Minnesota ranked last in the NFL with 63 rushing yards per game. The Vikings averaged 111.3 per game during the second quarter of the season, which was inflated by a 195-yard day against the Cardinals.
Latavius “Tay Train” Murray has done the brunt of the damage on the ground, rushing for 322 yards (80.5 per game) and four touchdowns while adding 10 receptions for 70 yards.
“Everybody knows what Tay Train is going to do and what he brings to the table,” Cook said. “We’re a thousand-percent confident with Tay out there, with anybody out there in our room. It shows how much Coach KP (Kennedy Polamalu) trusts us.”