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Rookie RB Cook's Breakaway Threat Could Help Jump-start Vikings Offense

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Midway through the Vikings second-to-last mandatory minicamp practice, Dalvin Cook took a handoff and eventually found himself running up the right sideline.

When the rookie running back realized cornerback Xavier Rhodes was giving chase, even in helmets and shorts, Cook turned on the jets to outrace him by a few strides.

The sequence happened in an instant, but showed plenty of Cook's big-play potential, especially considering Rhodes is one of the league's fastest defensive backs.

"I think he has a chance to be special," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said of Cook. "There was (that) play … Xavier is trying to catch him, and he's hauling now.

"I just think that this guy has a chance to be pretty good," Zimmer added. "He's got some things that he's got to work on, like all young backs. I've been very impressed with him this spring. He's been a great kid off the field. He's been a great kid in the meetings."

The Vikings took Cook with the 41st overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, as Minnesota traded up in the second round to grab the former Florida State standout.

Cook holds Florida State's single-season rushing record and broke Warrick Dunn's career rushing record with the Seminoles. The two-time All-American totaled 4,464 yards and 46 touchdowns on 687 carries (6.5 yards per carry) and added 79 receptions for 935 yards and two scores in his college career.

He could inject some life into a Vikings ground game that finished last in the NFL with 1,205 total rushing yards.

"I think the best part of my game, I could go 80 yards no matter where we're at on the field – I have that type of confidence in myself, I can bust a long run," Cook saud earlier this spring. "I think my talent and my hard work puts me in position to do that … I can run between the tackles, outside the tackles, catch the ball.

"I just think my game is unique and what today's NFL is looking for," Cook added.

Upon arriving in Minnesota, Cook joined a Vikings running back room that includes Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon.

In addition to trying and earning the respect from his position mates, the rookie said he's soaked up all the information he could from the pair of veterans.

"It's really picking up habits – really just studying and going out there and giving 100 percent on the field," Cook said. "If you don't know it, just go out and give 100 percent – you can always go back and correct yourself.

So just picking up habits from those guys. Latavius has been in the league already, Jerick's been in the league, so it's just picking up habits from those guys so I can create good habits for myself," Cook added. "That's what I'm doing. Any little thing that I can pick up from those guys, I'm picking it up. I'm just sitting back, being the rookie that I am, and just learning from those guys."

Cook took some reps with the first-team offense during spring practices but will get a chance to showcase in skills at training camp in Mankato.

But no matter what his role is, the player who could be a dynamic weapon for the Vikings offense said he's excited for his first NFL season.

"Take advantage, that's my concrete goal. Take advantage of the opportunity," Cook said. "Whatever reps I get, whatever I get to do for this team, I'm going to take advantage of it.

"I've always been a player – I haven't set goals for myself," Cook added. "I think if I go out there and give full effort in everything I do, I think everything will fall in place."

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