EAGAN, Minn. — There was a chance Dalvin Cook was going to play against the Packers all along in Week 17.
The Vikings running back, who went on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday, likely would have been activated from that list Saturday based on his recent adherence to league-wide protocols for unvaccinated players.
But Minnesota now knows it will for sure have Cook available Sunday night in Green Bay, as the NFL recently altered its timeline for those on the list — meaning Cook was back with the team and at practice Wednesday.
"Great to have Dalvin back. He's such a special player, a great teammate," said Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. "It was great to see him back in the building this morning when I got in the locker room."
Cook, who leads the NFC and ranks fourth in the league with 1,067 rushing yards, was excited about his return to the field when he spoke to Twin Cities media members via videoconference.
"Frustrating to be put on that list, especially with how important these games are during the season," Cook said. "I wanted to be out there with my team and wanted to compete with those guys.
"Those guys know how much it means to me to be out there to help them contribute to a win. I was frustrated watching it on TV," Cook added. "I wish this rule would have come out last week so I could have come back earlier, but it didn't. I'm just glad everything worked out that I'm back this week."
The three-time Pro Bowler — Cook was announced to this year's team on Dec. 20 — has 226 rushing attempts and six scores on the ground this season.
Cook noted Wednesday that the Vikings, who currently have four players (Sean Mannion, Patrick Jones II, Rashod Hill and Olisaemeka Udoh) on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, are taking all precautions possible with two regular-season games left.
"Yeah, we're doing the right things, taking the right steps to not have the close contacts, to not have more guys outside the building if they don't have COVID," Cook said. "We're staying 6 feet apart, in larger meeting rooms and keeping our masks on.
"Staying away from each other, basically. Got to talk from a distance nowadays. Stuff like that," Cook added. "Doing the right stuff so our team is in the right position come these next two weeks."
Cook's return should help boost a Vikings offense that struggled for most of Sunday's game against the Rams.
And he'll face a team he knows well — and has had plenty of success against in the past.
View photos of Vikings players from practice on Dec. 29 at the TCO Performance Center.
Cook is 3-2-1 in his career against Green Bay, and has accounted for 100-plus yards from scrimmage in three of those games.
He had one of the best games of his career in 2020 at Lambeau Field, rushing for 163 yards while adding 63 yards through the air.
Cook also scored four touchdowns, including one on a 50-yard reception — to help Minnesota pull off an upset road win.
The running back's skill set will likely be needed once again Sunday in prime time as the Vikings (7-8) try to stay alive in the NFC Wild Card race.
Minnesota might face a must-win scenario if Philadelphia is victorious earlier Sunday.
Cook and the Vikings will be ready for whatever comes next in Border Battle no. 123.
"Every time we go into Lambeau, we know it's – well, last year it had no fans — but we know it's going to be a hostile environment," Cook said. "So, prepping these young guys and getting everyone else ready who hasn't been to Lambeau, to get their minds right for a hostile crowd.
"But our mindset is right now: We have to win the rest of these games," Cook added. "No matter how we win it, no matter how we do it, we have to go win."