Tampa Bay is preparing for a "game wrecker" in running back Dalvin Cook.
Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter, Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy all used the descriptor for the Vikings rookie.
"That's a guy we did a lot of work on in the draft, and he's carried it right over to the season," Koetter told Twin Cities media via conference call earlier this week. "He's a power back, but he's got explosive speed. He's got excellent hands, he's a game-wrecker type player, and we know first-hand how good he is. And he's certainly proven that the first two weeks."
After Week 2, Cook ranked third in the NFL with 191 rushing yards.
Cook was a common name brought up in Buccaneers media sessions this week due to his time at Florida State with Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston. The signal caller said his former teammate is "an amazing player."
"I'm pretty sure, personally, he has a chip [on his shoulder], but Dalvin runs like that, period," Winston told Tampa Bay media members. "He's going to tote that rock – it doesn't matter if he got picked No. 1 or if he got picked Mr. Irrelevant (last). He's a running back. He's a great guy, and he's an amazing player."
McCoy said he was impressed by Cook's performances against the Saints and Steelers. He emphasized that Cook isn't the type of back who will get out of bounds to avoid getting hit.
"He's a 'run and get those extra couple yards' guy. And anybody like that, you have to bring your big boy pads. Bring an extra set of pads, because it's going to be a physical day," McCoy said. "That's the type of style offense they have – a very physical offense that gets downhill on the run.
"Even when they stretch the ball out, he looks for that hole, and once he gets downhill, he's getting downhill in a hurry," McCoy added. "And he's not getting downhill avoiding contact."
Here are some highlights of what the Buccaneers said about the Vikings this week.
Smith on Cook:
"He's a stronger running back. He runs well behind his pads; he's already had two runs of 30 yards or more. All you've got to do is show that clip to the team, and they got respect for him right away. He has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield … We consider him a game-wrecker."
Koetter on Vikings defense
"Well, the first thing you see is a team loaded with excellent players. I think they have five Pro Bowl players on that defense, they're very well coached, they don't beat themselves, they're physical. [It's] hard to get them out of position. If they're on your side, there's a lot to like about that defense. For our side, it's a lot more difficult."
Winston on former FSU teammate Xavier Rhodes
"I believe he's one of the best corners in the game. His size and speed combination is amazing. But at the end of the day, just like at Florida State, we're going to go out there, and we're going to compete. He's a great player; we have great players on our team. He's part of a great team; we have a good team. So we just have go to out there and play."