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Timeout with Dalvin Cook


Dalvin Cook has an oversized schedule hanging by his locker, with each game designated by a different tagline.

Some are listed as rivalry games or prime-time tilts, depending on the opponent of the week.

Sunday's game against the Dolphins?

The Vikings running back, who grew up in Miami, has this one down as a "Popcorn Ready Game."

"I was definitely a Dolphins fan … my whole family was Dolphins fans," Cook said. "I'm actually going to have like 20 family members coming up for the game.

"This is definitely one of those games that you look forward to in a season," Cook added. "Especially with my family coming out and this being a team I grew up watching, so yeah … a lot of preparation."

It comes as no surprise to hear that Cook's favorite Dolphins players were running backs.

"There were two … I had Ricky [Williams] and Ronnie Brown," Cook said. "The whole concept they had running the Wildcat and just the ground game, period."

Williams and Brown combined for 1,575 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns in 2008 when Miami implemented the formation with a running back at quarterback under the direction of the late Tony Sparano.

But things weren't always easy for Cook and his family in Miami, as the 23-year-old said life in the city helped him grow up quickly.

"It helped me mature as fast as possible. It will make you mature more than you want to," Cook said. "It definitely molded me into the person that I am today. It helps me pursue everything with passion. That's how I grew up, and it carried over to the man I am now.

"My mom, she had us young, but she kept up her drive with going to school and pushing us," Cook added. "My oldest brother faced a lot of adversity, so it was just instilled in us to have that drive to not quit and not let things deteriorate."

Cook attended Miami Central High School, where he ran for 4,267 total yards and 64 touchdowns while leading the Rockets to a 52-5 record.

He then had a successful career at Florida State, where he set school records with 4,464 career rushing yards and 46 touchdowns.

The Vikings traded up to snag Cook in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft with the 41st overall pick. He tore his ACL in Week 4 of the 2017 season and then missed multiple games this season with a hamstring injury.

Cook has 721 rushing yards and four total touchdowns in 12 career games with Minnesota.

Cook recently sat down for a Timeout with to discuss how he stayed positive despite injuries, his adventures in the kitchen and the joy he gets from playing football.

Q: Did you use that mentality you gained in Miami over the past two seasons when you dealt with your torn ACL as a rookie and then your hamstring injury this season?

A: "I definitely did. I looked at it as … if I could get through a lot of things I got through, this ain't nothing but time, and I just have to wait it out. I just put it in that perspective and kept the long-term goal that I was going to be back out there and I would be ready."

Q: You have flashed big-time potential when healthy. Is there something inside you that is waiting for a consistent stretch where you can show the league your talents?

A: "I definitely have that feeling. I've been itching for it, and it's definitely going to come. I just keep stacking my days up and keep coming here with my hard hat on and just keep learning. I know my talent … once I really step out and do what I do, it's going to be something special."

Q: Cameras always catch you dancing in warmups and smiling on the sideline. Where does that joy for the game come from?

A: "The only way I know how to play the game is loose. That's not doing anything out of my character, it's just having fun and doing it with a smile on my face. If you go out there and are tight, then you're not going to be able to express yourself. I just go out there and show my character."

Q: One of your nicknames is "The Chef," so how are your cooking skills?

A: "I'm in the process of learning. I do a lot of YouTubing stuff and going to places and learning how to do stuff. I'm not trying to burn down the house or anything.

Q: Where's your favorite place in eat in Minnesota?

A: "It's a spot by my crib, it's called Jake's [City Grille]. I go there probably two times a week. I go there and get my shrimp and sausage soup, that's what I start it off with. And then I get my chicken alfredo pasta. That's my go-to."

Q: What's the vibe like in the running back room?

A: "It's tight. We're as tight as you get. We stress that so much because guys see things that other people don't see. If you're not a close-knit group, then you're not going to be able to communicate that to each other. We're real tight, and we do a lot of things together."

Q: How much do you value Vikings running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu's leadership and wisdom from his extensive coaching experience?

A: "We love him to death, man. He can relate to us on so many levels — as a brother, too. He knows when to do things and when to say things. He can relate to us on so many levels, and his track record speaks for itself. We love Coach KP."