EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Dalvin Cook's first NFL game included 22 carries for 127 yards, a total that set a Vikings rookie record for most rushing yards in a debut.
Cook's impact on the ground helped Minnesota get its 2017 season off on the right foot with a 29-19 win over New Orleans.
So, was the Vikings rookie running back's debut what he expected or what he had hoped for?
"It was both, really. If you prepare well throughout the week in practice, you can transfer it over to the game and get good results," Cook said Thursday. "We had a good week of practice so we have to continue that this week."
"I wouldn't say easy. Everything takes hard work. It's still not easy (because) you've got guys out there who have been in the league for a long time," Cook added. "It's intense and another level … it's the NFL. You have to prepare well, and once you prepare well, you go out there and just play football."
Cook had eight carries for just 22 yards at the half, but turned in a big performance over the final two quarters by ripping off runs of 32 and 33 yards on his first and last carries of the final period.
The second-round pick said he was prepared to carry the workload on the ground if needed, add Vikings running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu told the unit he was going with the hot hand.
"It's about what I expected. Coach KP is a guy who is about rhythm," Cook said. "You get in a rhythm, and he just lets you go.
"He told us whoever had the rhythm, he would let them finish it out," Cook added. "I had the rhythm, so that's why he gave me the load like that.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur said he was impressed by Cook's all-around game, especially in pass protection. Vikings quarterback Kyle Rudolph was sacked just once Monday against the Saints.
"I think I expected that from him after watching him work the last few months," Shurmur said. "I told him after the game, 'You're no longer a rookie, you got your first live action in a regular season game.'
"You can just tell, there's certain players that it's not too big for them," Shurmur added. "I think he was out there, he was in the flow of the game, he was comfortable with what he was doing. He had production running the ball and doing all the other things."
Shurmur said Cook did have trouble adjusting to the lights of U.S. Bank Stadium when it came to catching passes. The running back had three receptions for 10 yards but dropped a pair of targets in his debut.
"It's something that I have to get better at … go out pregame and tracking the ball and stuff like that. There's no excuse, I just have to get better at it."
Murray on Vikings debut
Running back Latavius Murray gained three yards on his first Vikings carry but put the ball on the ground when the pigskin was broadsided in traffic. It was recovered by David Morgan at the New Orleans 13, allowing Minnesota to kick a short field goal two plays later.
"It's one of those things I obviously have to avoid," Murray said. "There's no excuse about it at all. It's only up from here. My first carry as a Viking was a fumble that we luckily got back, so I've got to move on. There's things that can't happen at my position or at any position, but it's done and over with now."
Murray totaled six yards on two carries in limited action as he continues to work his way back from offseason ankle surgery.
An addition from Oakland in free agency, Murray is one of the few Vikings to have played in Pittsburgh. He rushed 17 times for 96 yards, including a long of 44, during his 2015 Pro Bowl season.
"I thought it was a fun place to play," Murray said. "They're rowdy, they're loud, a great football environment. I haven't won there yet, so I think this will be another great opportunity for our team and for the offense against a good defense."
Asked if Heinz Field's Steeler Country is rowdier than Oakland's Black Hole, Murray said, "Nah, it's hard to say that, but it's definitely going to be some excitement in there for sure."
Diggs' moves past Monday's performance
It seemed the entire football world was talking about Stefon Diggs' prime-time performance on Monday Night Football.
But a few days after hauling in seven catches for 93 yards and two scores, Diggs has already moved on.
"I'm not necessarily too focused on what carries over," Diggs said. "It's a new week, different team, so hopefully we can come out with the same energy at least. I try not to focus on last week.
"I feel like (this offense) can do anything, but it's all about preparing each and every day," Diggs added. "We have new opportunity this week. The world saw it once, but it's about consistency and doing it at a high level."
Diggs was one of five players to record a multi-touchdown performance in Week 1, and he is tied for eighth in the league in receiving yards.
View images from Thursday, September 14 practice at Winter Park.
For the Vikings: Anthony Barr (hamstring) did not participate Thursday. Quarterback Sam Bradford (knee) and linebacker Emmanuel Lamur (hamstring) were limited for a second straight day. Cornerback Trae Waynes (knee) and Xavier Rhodes (hip) were added to the report Thursday as limited participants. Guard Danny Isidora (knee) and cornerback Tramaine Brock (groin) were full participants.
For the Steelers: Tackle Jerald Hawkins (knee), defensive end Stephon Tuitt (biceps) and safety J.J. Wilcox (concussion) did not participate for a second straight day. Linebacker Bud Dupree (shoulder) was limited again. Tight end Vance McDonald (back) and safety Sean Davis (ankle) were added to the report Thursday. McDonald did not participate, and Davis was limited.