Eight months after knee surgery, Dalvin Cook cleared another important milestone in his rehab from a torn ACL.
The running back was cleared at the beginning of the week to do some team drills during Vikings organized team activities (OTAs). The Vikings had Cook lined up in the backfield and at wide receiver during Wednesday’s practice, which was the third of the offseason open to reporters.
Afterward, Cook continued to sound hopeful about the arc of his rehab from the injury he sustained last Oct. 1.
“I’ve been feeling good, but this week was another milestone,” he said. “They kind of told me at the beginning of the week. I was excited to get back into action, get out there and just get some live reps.”
The Vikings likely will continue to be cautious with Cook’s workload through the rest of their offseason workouts and into training camp, but his progress continues to suggest he’ll be ready in plenty of time for the start of the regular season against the 49ers on Sept. 9.
When he is ready to go, Cook said he will step into “the offense that I’ve always wanted to be in.” New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has talked excitedly about the ways he can use Cook in his offense, and as he gets healthy, the running back figures to have plenty of opportunities as a runner and receiver.
“Coach Flip just wants to get guys in space, get them the ball and let them make plays,” Cook said. “He just wants us to run free. There’s a lot of green grass for everybody on the field to run.”
Even if he’s not at full speed yet, Cook continues to progress in a way that suggests he’ll be there before long.
“It’s about getting him around bodies flying around him a little bit,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “It’s not so much trying to figure out what he can do right now; we’re trying to get him comfortable with 22 players around him.”
Rudolph happy to be back; Griffen still out
Tight end Kyle Rudolph, who had surgery on his right foot after the season, said he originally was supposed to be out of team sessions during OTAs longer than he was. Rudolph still has been limited in team drills, but praised the Vikings’ athletic training staff for getting him back on the field ahead of schedule.
“They got me to a point where I’m able to go out there a few weeks early,” Rudolph said. “There’s nothing worse than being an athlete and not being able to be out there when the rest of your teammates are out there working and preparing. Obviously, this offseason is unique in the fact that we have a new offense, a new system, a new quarterback. I wasn’t getting any better over there by myself, so it’s good to be back out there.”
While Rudolph sees more time in practice, defensive end Everson Griffen continues to sit out team drills. Griffen has been doing rehab work during all three of the Vikings’ OTA practices open to reporters, though Zimmer said again Tuesday that Griffen’s absence from team drills is not related to the torn plantar fascia he sustained last year.
• Zimmer, who turned 62 on Tuesday, said players serenaded him for the occasion, but he wasn’t too impressed with the effort. “That was bad singing,” he said, before adding, “No presents. A good practice was a good present.”
• Gophers coach P.J. Fleck visited the Vikings’ practice, watching from the sideline before chatting with General Manager Rick Spielman and players such as Rudolph, quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver Adam Thielen.
• First-round pick Mike Hughes, who is the Vikings’ only unsigned draft pick, said he’s “pretty close” to signing his deal. “It’s just a matter of my agent putting me in the best position moving forward,” the cornerback said.
Staff writer Andrew Krammer contributed to this report.