EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings will hold their first practice of the week on Thursday afternoon, and there is plenty of intrigue surrounding Minnesota's running backs.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer fielded numerous questions on that position group Thursday morning, including inquiries about the health of Dalvin Cook.
Cook left Sunday's win over the Chargers with a shoulder injury. He has a team-high 1,135 rushing yards and is tied for third in the NFL with 13 rushing touchdowns.
"I don't know, we'll see," Zimmer said if Cook will practice Thursday. "But yeah, I have an update: he seems to be doing good."
Minnesota was without rookie running back Alexander Mattison against Los Angeles because of an ankle injury.
Zimmer also addressed the possibility of Mattison giving it a go after the third-round pick sat out of practice all of last week.
"He's doing better. Has a chance," Zimmer said. "It's going to be a low-key practice."
Mike Boone stepped in Sunday to rush for 56 yards and his first two NFL touchdowns on 13 carries to give the Vikings a second-half spark.
"We have a lot of confidence in Mike," Zimmer said. "He's done a good job and did a god job last week… but hopefully we don't need him."
No matter who sees the field Monday night against Green Bay, Zimmer said he has confidence in each of his running backs, a group that also includes Ameer Abdullah.
Zimmer also noted that the Vikings won't drastically alter their offensive game plan if Cook can't go.
"They know the protections … they can catch the ball. They're just different guys," Zimmer said. "Really, the system doesn't change much. You always have plays for guys or things for certain guys, but you don't make wholesale changes."
Here are four other topics Zimmer discussed Wednesday:
1. Respect for Rodgers
The Week 16 matchup between the Vikings and Packers marks the 11th time quarterback Aaron Rodgers will start against Zimmer.
Rodgers is 5-4-1 in his past 10 starts against the Vikings, and Zimmer made it clear he still has plenty of respect for the quarterback, even if he's not putting up his usual eye-popping statistics in 2019.
Rodgers has completed 300 of 474 passes (63.3 percent) for 3,463 yards with 24 touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating of 100.4 is tied for ninth in the NFL.
Zimmer said Rodgers is as dangerous as ever on the move.
"When he starts scrambling, it's not necessarily a good thing," Zimmer said. "He can run, too. I still remember when we were [on the University of Minnesota campus] and we blitzed off our left side, his right side, and he kind of got outside the pocket and threw about a 40-yard dart to the pylon about four feet high for a touchdown.
"He still has all the attributes," Zimmer added.
Zimmer then made a crack about the longstanding battles between the two.
"I think one of us needs to get out of the division," Zimmer quipped with a smile. "Either him or me. I don't care which one."
2. Tougher to take it away — By Craig Peters
The Vikings provided exhibits A through G on the importance of turnovers in one game, totaling seven takeaways in a 39-10 victory over the Chargers in Los Angeles on Sunday.
This week's foe has a much better track record of protecting the football. Green Bay has committed just nine turnovers in 14 games this season.
Minnesota fumbled five times and lost two, and the Vikings also suffered a pair of interceptions in Week 2 at Lambeau Field.
The Packers lost both of their fumbles that day, but came away plus-two in the turnover margin, which was critical in the 21-16 win.
The Packers rank second in net takeaway/giveaway differential (plus-14), and the Vikings are tied for fourth with a net differential of plus-11.
Rodgers hasn't been picked since Week 6 against the Lions.
"I think, number one, Rodgers does a great job with it, and then every time I watch Aaron Jones run, he's been carrying it high and tight," Zimmer said. "They do a great job of protecting the football."
Look back at photos through the years featuring games between the Vikings and Packers.
3. Don't discount Green Bay's ground game — By Lindsey Young
We all know the type of damage that Rodgers can inflict, but don't forget Green Bay's run game.
It may be the less-flashy aspect of the Packers offense, but it has been effective nonetheless.
"They're running the ball well. I think the offensive line's doing a nice [job]; they've got a lot better guys in there," Zimmer said. "The two tackles and the center, they're good players. And nJones and [Jamaal] Williams are both good backs. They're probably committed a little bit more to running the football, and when [Jones] has good days running the ball, they typically gave a good day offensively."
The Packers are averaging 106.5 rushing yards per game, which puts them right in the middle of the pack (17th) in the NFL.
Jones leads Green Bay with 830 yards and 14 touchdowns on 188 carries; Williams has 101 attempts for 427 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Both have been effective out of the backfield, as well, combining for 749 receiving yards and eight scores.
4. Playing your best football in December — By Lindsey Young
The Vikings have two games to finish out the regular season, both at home against divisional opponents.
It's possible that Minnesota could secure a playoff berth before it's _Monday Night Football _game if the 49ers defeat the Rams Saturday night. But regardless of what other teams do, Zimmer and the Vikings want to finish strong and (hopefully) enter the postseason with momentum.
So, what is the key to playing your best football in December?
"It's about, number one, hopefully you're healthy so you've got your good players playing," Zimmer said. "Number two, it's about execution, making sure that everybody's on the same page.
"And then, I think the good teams, when they get going this time of year, they still harp on technique and fundamentals and hand placement and footwork and things like that," he added. "And that's what we've been trying to do."