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NOTEBOOK: Sunday Was a ‘Step in the Right Direction’ for Elflein

EAGAN, Minn. — It didn’t take long for Pat Elflein to get back into the flow during his first game of 2018.

“It took about a play,” Elflein said. “Then I was like, ‘Alright, I’ve been here before and know what it’s like.’ It’s definitely different when you’re out there and the bullets are flying. It was fun.

“I got that feeling, that rush, of playing in an NFL game again. It was awesome and fun to be out there with my teammates,” Elflein added. “We didn’t get the result we wanted, but personally, getting out there with all the guys and going through that, for me it was a step in the right direction.”

The Vikings second-year center made his season debut Sunday against Buffalo. Elflein didn’t start but played 22 snaps in the second and third quarters.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Friday that the team had a plan for Elflein going into his first game. The offensive lineman said the team stuck to that plan against the Bills.

“It was around that [snap amount]. Kind of going on how I felt,” Elflein said. “I went out there and was feeling good. I’m happy with it. Personally, for how I did, I was happy with it and my stamina. I felt great.”

Elflein, who was inactive the first two games of the season, rehabbed from shoulder and ankle injuries all offseason.

He started 14 games but missed two over the final month of the regular season due to a shoulder injury. Elflein, who was a selection on the 2017 All-Rookie Team by PFWA, suffered an ankle injury in the NFC title game against Philadelphia.

“It was tough because I wanted to be in there as soon as I could. But also, I’ve got to make sure I’m healthy as well,” Elflein said. “You have to find the right balance between that. It was tough, but I’m feeling great right now.”

Elflein said he is looking forward to Thursday’s contest with the Rams.

“I wanted to kind of test the waters a little bit. My stamina felt good and I feel great now,” Elflein said. “It was great to get out there and get my feet wet again.”

Elflein, Jones unsure on who will start

While Elflein played on Sunday, it was center Brett Jones who got the start.

Jones played 44 snaps on the first three and the final three drives of the game. Elflein’s 22 snaps came on the middle six of Minnesota’s 12 offensive series.

“The plan was for Pat to get some snaps, and then we just didn’t have very many offensive plays in the second and third quarter, so in order for everybody to get whatever the predetermined number of snaps they wanted [us] to get, he played in those quarters,” Jones said. “And then when those snaps were up, it was my turn to go back in, and I went in and played.

“That’s the way it is,” Jones added. “You just have to do what you’re asked, and that’s all you can do.”

Both players said Monday they were unsure of who would start Thursday’s nationally-televised game against the Rams.

“I think it’s still early in the week,” Jones said. “But you know, I’m just here to do my job and whatever they need me to do.

Cook on the mend

Dalvin Cook was a spectator Sunday, but he hopes he won’t be Thursday night in Los Angeles.

The Vikings running back said Monday there is a “good chance” he plays against the Rams.

“It feels great at this point,” Cook said. “Still taking everything day-to-day and just going to see how it feels come Thursday.

Cook leads the Vikings with 78 yards on 26 carries this season. Minnesota attempted just six rushes for 14 total yards on Sunday.

Mike Boone saw his first NFL action had two carries for 11 yards while Latavius Murray had two attempts net one yard. Kirk Cousins had two attempts for two yards.

Cook said he has a strong belief in the Vikings offense going forward.

“It’s not a rush. We’re not in panic mode; we’re not in none of that,” Cook said. “This team, we’re still working every week. We’re still getting better.

“There’s still a lot of things we’ve got to work on. Like I said, the game just got out of hand. Everything fell right for them,” Cook added. “We just have to get a better start, and that’s what today’s for and tomorrow, to get ready for Thursday’s game.”

Injury reports

The Vikings held an afternoon walk-through session instead of a full practice on Monday, so the injury report will be based on an approximation of if the team had fully practiced.

The Rams did not practice Monday, this is an estimation based on what full practice participation would have been.

For the Vikings: Marcus Sherels (ribs), Everson Griffen (knee/not injury related), Dalvin Cook (hamstring) and Riley Reiff (foot) did not participate. Anthony Harris (hamstring), Trae Waynes (ankle), Rashod Hill (foot) and David Morgan (knee) were limited. Holton Hill (ankle) and Pat Elflein (ankle) were full participants.

For the Rams: Mark Barron (ankle), Dominique Easley (knee), JoJo Natson (hand), Marcus Peters (calf), Aqib Talib (ankle) and kicker Greg Zuerlein (groin) did not participate.

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