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Lunchbreak: Dalvin Cook Among NFL Players who 'Graduated to Stardom' in 2019

The 2019 season included the breakout campaign that Dalvin Cook — and the Vikings — had been hoping for.

The Vikings running back made his first Pro Bowl after a season in which he ran for a career-high 1,135 yards with 13 rushing touchdowns. Cook, who averaged 4.54 yards per carry, also recorded 53 receptions for 519 yards.

The 2017 second-round pick became a household name around the league, and also made a noteworthy list from Dan Graziano of ESPN.com.

Graziano put together a list of 10 NFL players who graduated to stardom in 2019, and he included Cook among the players who impressed this past season.

Graziano began by looking at who Cook was before the season began, as well as how he performed inn 2019.

An injury-prone running back with star potential who'd played a combined 15 games and rushed for a combined 969 yards in his first two NFL seasons. The Vikings went to camp believing they had a fully healthy Cook for the first time since his rookie season and excited about his potential as the centerpiece of their offense.

The Vikings made the playoffs as the NFC's second Wild Card team, and Cook had 130 total yards and two touchdowns in their first-round playoff upset win in New Orleans.

Graziano also took a look at what the future could hold for Cook and the Vikings.

The Vikings hope he's past all of the injury hurdles of the early part of his career and ready to carry a bell-cow workload for them into the foreseeable future. He's also contract extension-eligible and on the list of very interesting running back contract candidates over the next couple of years.

Cook was one of three running backs on the list along with Tennessee's Derrick Henry and Cleveland's Nick Chubb.

Harris enjoys Pro Bowl as a visitor

The Vikings ended up with eight total Pro Bowlers this past weekend in Orlando, but one player who should have likely been in the game still made the trip.

Safety Anthony Harris, who tied for the league lead with six interceptions, wasn't selected to the initial Pro Bowl roster, nor was he among the list of alternates.

But Harris still took part in some of the festivities after receiving an invitation from fellow safety Harrison Smith, according to Chad Graff of The Athletic.

Graff caught up with Harris about his experience with his teammates:

The idea was first thrown out by Danielle Hunter, then formally offered by Harrison Smith. Why don't you join us at the Pro Bowl, the pair asked Harris a couple weeks ago. Harris thought about it for a day. It certainly would've been fair to flippantly decline the offer. The league had ignored that, by about any metric, Harris was one of the top safeties. They didn't offer him a spot on the all-star team which should've validated his emergence among the NFL's elite.

He had been a bit bummed he didn't make it, mostly because he wanted his family to experience the trip to Orlando and accompanying perks. But Harris relented. He likes talking with other players and wanted to be there for his Vikings teammates that did got the nod to the game.

"I just wanted to come down and support them and support their success," Harris said in a phone interview Saturday from Orlando.

Harris joined the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and blossomed into one of the league's best safeties. He has started 31 games for the Vikings, including 23 in the past two seasons.

Harris has nine picks in the past two seasons. He also had a forced fumble and 11 passes defensed in 2019.

He was more concerned last week about enjoying time with his teammates. They went to Disney and Universal theme parks together during the week. Harris especially enjoyed chatting with stars from other teams and socializing with them.

He may not have gotten the credit deserved for a standout season, but he enjoyed taking in the game that spurned him.

"I'm kind of incognito down here because all the guys who are actually in the Pro Bowl have their names on the back with numbers, but me, I'm blending in a little bit without those things," Harris said. "It's been a cool little, 'Where's Waldo?' hiding in the back."

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