Written By Sam Ekstrom (ZoneCoverage.com)
As the Minnesota Vikings continue to seek offensive balance in the middle part of the season, the return of Dalvin Cook may be the biggest addition for John DeFilippo and Co.
The highly-touted former second-round pick hadn’t played significant reps since a hamstring injury arose in Week 2, but he showed little evidence of rust in his first game action in over a month.
NFL Next Gen Stats tracked Cook at 22.07 miles per hour during a 70-yard carry in the second quarter, the fastest recorded speed of any ball carrier — offensive or defensive — this season. It was the longest, and apparently speediest, run of Cook’s career.
“Faster than Tyreek [Hill]?” he asked when told the stat after the game. “That is good, man. I am not a slow guy, but running faster than Tyreek, that is fast, man. He is probably jogging. I know I had it in me, but it is a matter of getting me out there.”
For the record, Hill has the third and fourth fastest times at 21.95 mph and 21.78 mph. According to Zimmer, though, Cook told him he could move even quicker.
“He actually said that he was thinking about his hamstring and only kept it in fourth gear,” Zimmer told reporters after the game. “Hopefully there’s another gear there somewhere.”
Cook ended up touching the ball 14 times for 109 all-purpose yards. He got 28 snaps — more than the team planned initially.
The small sample sizes in his young career have mostly been brilliant. Cook is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and 9.0 yards per reception in eight games played.
His presence in the Vikings offense provides a complement to veteran back Latavius Murray and gives Kirk Cousins another dangerous option in the passing game. Don’t forget, Cook had six catches for 55 yards in the season opener.
“I think I’ve said this a few times, I’ve joked he is the white tiger,” said Cousins. “When you go to the zoo and you want to see a white tiger and they say he is not coming out today you are disappointed, and you’re like, ‘That’s why I bought the ticket, to see the white tiger.’
“That’s Dalvin. When you get him, he’s special. I just have such a small sample size of having seen him because I’ve only been here since April, and obviously he was recovering from his injury last year. When he’s been in he’s been special.”
With his first major test out of the way, Cook gets two weeks to rest as the Vikings get a much-needed bye. He’ll likely be leaned on heavily in the second half of the season.
“This extra week is going to help with our whole team getting to 100 percent,” said Cook. “Including me, getting over that hump.”