Running back Dalvin Cook will miss his fourth game of the season Sunday, when the Vikings are set to play the Jets with Latavius Murray leading the backfield.
Cook was ruled out Friday because of the hamstring injury that has plagued him since the Sept. 16 tie in Green Bay. Cook was able to practice fully Wednesday, but the Vikings held him out of practices Thursday and Friday. Coach Mike Zimmer was noncommittal when asked Friday if Cook’s absence will continue to be long-term.
“I don’t know,” Zimmer said. “I let the medical people handle it.”
Cook has not played since the Sept. 27 loss to the Rams, when he took 10 carries for 20 yards. Cook said afterward his hamstring was still not fully healthy. He will miss his 18th game of the Vikings’ past 21 because of the season-ending knee injury last year and the troublesome hamstring this season.
Murray, coming off a career-high 155 rushing yards against the Cardinals, will get his second start of the season against a Jets defense allowing 4.3 yards per carry through six games.
The Vikings defensive line will get a reinforcement against the Jets. Defensive end Tashawn Bower, who has missed two games because of a sprained ankle, is set to return after practicing fully this week. Bower said the “painful” injury happened on his second or third snap of the Rams game, but he played through it because the Vikings would have otherwise been down to just two other defensive ends, in Danielle Hunter and Stephen Weatherly.
Bower has played 45 snaps in three games for the Vikings and will provide some much-needed relief off the bench Sunday as they play a fifth game without Everson Griffen.
“The best thing you can do is make sure you are healthy,” Bower said Friday. “So when you can come back, you can contribute full speed, so it’s just a process you have to go through unfortunately.”
Backup nose ready, waiting
Zimmer said he’s still looking for consistency from second-year defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, who could play a pivotal role at nose tackle on Sunday should Linval Joseph be limited or held out. Joseph is listed questionable to play against the Jets because of ankle, knee and shoulder injuries that held him out of two practices this week.
Johnson said “these moments are what we all look to be in” as he prepares for some dirty work of double teams and head-butting linemen.
“If you don’t do what you’re assigned to, then you expose the entire defense,” Johnson said. “It’s nothing extravagant. It’s simple, just do your job.”
Reiff, Sendejo out again
Left tackle Riley Reiff and safety Andrew Sendejo will miss a second straight game because of injuries that prevented them from practicing this week. Reiff is still dealing with a foot injury he initially suffered Sept. 22 against the Bills. Sendejo has not practiced in two weeks because of a groin ailment.
Look for safety George Iloka to get another start in the secondary. Rashod Hill is expected to again start at left tackle, with rookie Brian O’Neill at right tackle.
• Hunter missed Thursday’s practice because of a groin injury, as a precaution. He practiced Friday and is expected to play Sunday.
• The Jets are expected to be without three starting defensive backs in Trumaine Johnson, Buster Skrine and Marcus Maye. Johnson is listed doubtful. This comes while Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen seeks his seventh consecutive 100-yard game, which would tie the all-time NFL record set in 1961.