Alexander Mattison and Dalvin Cook are so similar in their games that sometimes their own offensive line teammates don't know which one carried the ball.
"The O-line will turn around and they'll ask, 'Wait, were you in or was Dalvin in?'" Mattison said. "So, that's really good for us to be able to not miss a beat and continue [to] just operate as a whole the way that we continue to prepare to do."
Mattison has spent his first three NFL seasons in Minnesota as Cook's primary backup. He's started just six games in his career but has made the most of his opportunities. In four of those six starts, Mattison has recorded at least 90 yards rushing. He also has five touchdowns from those contests.
Brian Hall of The Associated Press recently wrote about how Mattison is always ready to capitalize when his number gets called.
"For me, I kind of have to already be in that mode when it's my time to get in the game," Mattison said. "So, just feeding off of Dalvin's energy, feeding off the O-line as an offense and just kind of preparing myself that way even before the time is there, just mentally, it kind of helps me out."
When Cook exited Sunday's game against Detroit in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and didn't return, Mattison picked up right where his teammate left off. Mattison ran for 12 yards on three carries and a touchdown while adding a 16-yard catch.
"I've talked to you guys a lot about truly feeling pretty fortunate to have a running back room set up the way we do; with multiple skill sets, with the depth of guys that can go in," Minnesota Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said.
O'Connell added: "I mean, Alex's touchdown run there in the second half is just an example of his ability to just not be denied. I think he broke about three, four tackles on the play and finished on his feet in the end zone."
While the three-time Pro Bowler Cook has ran for at least 1,135 yards each of the past three seasons, he's also missed 24 career games due to various injuries. He missed a game in 2019 and last season with a shoulder injury.
Cook didn't practice Wednesday but was a full participant at Thursday's session ahead of the Vikings game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in London at 8:30 a.m. (CT).
Hall wrote Cook said that he "wouldn't want to go to war" with anyone else besides Mattison.
"Our relationship is real close," Cook said. "And on the field, you see the production he gives us every time that I'm down, every time that I come off the field and he goes in."
Cook added he's proud of the work Mattison has put in to get better every year.
"Mentality-wise, he's always prepared," Cook said. "He studies well; pro all the way around … I see him come in. He looks bigger every year I see him. I'm just looking forward to us putting up some numbers this year and going to win a big one."
Adam Thielen signs endorsement deal with UNRL
The Vikings and UNRL first established their partnership a year ago. After deciding to continue it this season, the athleisure clothing brand based in St. Paul is now collaborating with one of Minnesota's top wide receivers.
Thielen and UNRL will also work together on the UNRL x Adam Thielen Signature Collection, a co-branded clothing line scheduled to release in November. The collection will be sold both online at UNRL.co and in SCHEELS stores across the nation.
UNRL added the proceeds from the collection and the endorsement agreement will go towards the Thielen Foundation.
In addition, the funds from UNRL's partnership with SCHEELS will help assist local youth sports programs that need equipment and funding to continue to operate, which is part of the Thielen Foundation's current #ChangeThruSport program.
UNRL founder Michael E. Jordan said Thielen was the clear choice to be their first pro athlete on the brand.
"Adam is the perfect spokesperson for our brand," Jordan said. "He epitomizes all the characteristics of what UNRL stands for, including and especially his desire to give back to the community."
Thielen said Thursday he's excited to team up with UNRL.
"Obviously a Minnesota company, the owner went to Mankato with me, so pretty special to me and a great brand that I have a lot of faith and trust in," Thielen said to Twin Cities reporters. "So to be able to partner with them and they do a great job with the Vikings stuff and all that they're doing, so it's pretty cool."