Dalvin Cook ran through on-field drills with Vikings players on Tuesday inside the Eagan facility’s fieldhouse, marking steps forward in his rehab from a torn ACL less than seven months ago.
Cook has “knocked the rehab out of the park,” according to Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman and will hopefully be ready for the start of training camp and then Week 1.
“He’ll participate in OTAs moving forward on a limited basis,” Sugarman said. “Same thing for minicamp [in June], that’s no different.”
Cook, who was among NFL leaders with 288 rushing yards in his first three games, is able to use his left knee for all functions, according to Sugarman, however the “hard part is yet to come” with full speed and pads down the road.
“It’s a process. It’s a journey,” Cook said Tuesday. “It’s something you have to trust yourself and know you did everything in your power to get your knee back to where it was at. It’s a lot, man. It’s a lot I have in front of me.”
A grueling start to the rehab challenged Cook. . The return from an ACL tear has become more common with modern surgery and rehab, one of the most famous being Adrian Peterson’s rehab under Sugarman’s staff before a 2012 MVP season.
“First few weeks, it’s challenging,” Cook said. “You question yourself, do I want to still do this? Because you got Sugs pushing your leg — [you’re] ready to hit him across the head. It’s a lot. It really is. It’s an injury that can make you or break you.”
‘Music to my ears’
Count defensive end Everson Griffen among those happy the Vikings signed Sheldon Richardson in free agency. The Vikings’ sack leader called the move “music to my ears” because of the defense’s need for a better interior pass rush.
“Music to my ears,” Griffen said Tuesday. “I love seeing that, because the fastest way to the quarterback is up the middle. If he’s getting pressure up the middle and push up the middle, that means we can use more speed and we’re not getting as many chips.”
Griffen had a career-high 14 sacks last year in 17 games. His strong start was derailed by a “completely” torn plantar fascia. He’d had 10 sacks in the first eight games before the injury. Griffen said the injury is healed.
What’s holding up Newman’s return?
Xavier Rhodes has talked with free agent cornerback Terence Newman, who said in February he’d like to play a 16th NFL season. Those talks aren’t about football, Rhodes said Tuesday, insisting their “brotherly” bond centers on conversations about life.
Rhodes said he’s unsure of Newman’s future or why Newman and the Vikings haven’t agreed on a new deal. Tuesday, General Manager Rick Spielman said, “right now we’re focused on the draft. If there’s anything new we’ll let you know.”
“A guy that’s been doing it for so long like him,” Rhodes said, “he’s a guy that helps you realize the littlest things in the game. The things you don’t pay attention to as a player.”
Spielman insists the Vikings aren’t locked into taking an offensive lineman in the first round. They could target a thinner position or trade out of the first round altogether.
The Vikings feel Mike Remmers can start at right guard or right tackle, meaning they’re open to drafting a tackle or guard with an early pick.
“If we do go interior, than Mike Remmers can play right tackle for us,” Spielman said. “And he can play at a winning level.”