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Dalvin Cook's 'Ultimate Goal' is to 'Contribute Any Way Possible'

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Dalvin Cook knows there's a long way to go before his new team opens the 2017 season on Sept. 11.

So with the Vikings rookie running back fresh off the first walkthrough of his NFL career, he wasn't thinking about nailing down a starting job or anything like that.

Instead, Cook said he was focused on doing anything he could to fit in and help make an impact in Purple.

"(Starting as a rookie) isn't my ultimate goal," Cook said. "My ultimate goal is to find my role and come in and contribute to the team any way possible to help the team win.

"I'm coming in here and am working as hard as I can," Cook later added. "(I want to prove) to my teammates that I can be the best teammate and (come) out here showing I can be the best practice player they want me to be."

Cook, the 41st overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, arrived in Minnesota after a historic college career at Florida State.

He holds Florida State's single-season rushing record and broke Warrick Dunn's career rushing record with the Seminoles. The two-time All-American totaled 4,464 yards and 46 touchdowns on 687 carries (6.5 yards per carry) and added 79 receptions for 935 yards in his college career.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said it will be an open competition for playing time heading into training cap. 

Cook is joining a running back room that includes Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon, two veteran backs. He said he's excited to get to know them and form a formidable trio that can contribute to the offense.

"I did my research (on Murray and McKinnon)," Cook said. "They're great guys from what I've been hearing … they're great football players.

"I'm just looking forward to learning from those guys and having a great experience in that running back room," Cook added. "I think we're going to be good by feeding off of each other."

The 21-year-old has made an early impression on his new coach and  a draft classmate. 

"It's a walkthrough, but he showed acceleration, good feet, good vision, a lot of the things we saw on tape," Zimmer said. "(He's) a good kid, seems smart in the blitz pickup drill they had down there."

Offensive lineman Pat Elflein, Minnesota's third-round pick, added: "Dalvin's a beast. I'm sure all of us in the offensive line room are excited to block for someone like that. (He's) just going to add another weapon to the offense."

Cook totaled 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns on 288 carries as the Seminoles lead back in 2016.

He said he's already chatted with Vikings running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu and is ready to hone his craft, especially in terms of ball security and pass protection.

"Great coach … we sat down and talked for awhile when I first got here," Cook said. "He told me about himself and some of the guys he coached. … I feel like we're off to a great start.

"We're off to something special," Cook added. "I like the way he coaches. He pushes you but knows when to do it. He's just a great coach overall."

Ham ready for next step in second season

C.J. Ham took the field Friday when the Vikings opened rookie minicamp, but the Minnesota native shouldn't be lumped in with the first-year players. Ham and a handful of other players who spent part of 2016 with the Vikings were eligible to participate in this weekend's camp.

The Vikings running back said he learned plenty during his first season in the NFL, a year in which he made the practice squad as a undrafted free agent and was then promoted to the 53-man roster in late December.

Ham, who attended Augustana College (Division II), said the promotion gave him plenty of confidence heading into the offseason.

"It definitely helped a lot," Ham said. "The Vikings didn't have to promote me … it wasn't something they had to do.

"But I thought I worked very hard all year and I was very glad to get that call," Ham added.

Ham didn't see the field in Week 16's road game against the Packers and was inactive for a Week 17 finale against the Bears, but the 23-year-old said the experience was invaluable.

"I can play at this level," Ham said. "There was always a little bit of doubt from outsiders coming from a small school, but it all gets easier and you keep going on.

"I'm glad to be here and am ready to work," Ham added.

Ham made an impression on the Vikings during the 2016 preseason when he led Minnesota with 44 carries for 140 yards and two scores. Ham said he stayed local and trained in Eden Prairie this offseason.

On a gorgeous Friday morning, Ham said rookie minicamp was the first step in improving on his solid rookie campaign.

"It's definitely nice to be playing a defense and moving around," Ham said. "Having year under my belt, I know the system a bit more and can play a little faster."

Newby's the new kid from Nebraska

The Vikings also signed undrafted free agent and former Nebraska running back Terrell Newby this week.

Newby had 458 carries for 2,239 yards and 20 touchdowns in 52 games for the Cornhuskers. He also had 53 catches for 354 yards and two scores.

In addition to ranking 23rd in school history in rushing yards, Newby became just the eighth Cornhuskers running back to have 50 or more career receptions.

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