Running back Dalvin Cook said Monday he is “still trying to get 100 percent” healthy with the injured hamstring suffered Sept. 16 at Green Bay. The injury limited Cook during last week’s loss to the Rams in Los Angeles, where he had 10 carries for 20 yards for the Vikings’ lackluster rushing attack.
“This thing is still healing up,” Cook said. “I want to be 100 percent as bad as everybody wants me to be 100 percent. I’m just not there yet. Just have to keep chipping away at it. I’m going to be ready when I need to be.”
Through four weeks, the Vikings’ high-flying offense has been spectacularly unbalanced. They are the NFL’s only offense to not feature a player with at least 100 rushing yards on the season — doing so while leading the league in passing first downs. Cook’s 98 rushing yards leads the Vikings on a 2.7-yard average per carry.
Part of the issue has been game flow, including a 17-0 deficit after six offensive plays against the Bills and last week’s shootout against the Rams.
“Game just got out of hand where we had to throw the ball,” Cook said. “Nobody run the ball if you’re trying to play catch up. That’s just how the game worked out, limited our chance.”
Latavius Murray, who has 64 rushing yards on 19 carries, said players can do more to cause offensive coordinator John DeFilippo to call runs. The Vikings’ 73 rushing attempts are the fewest in the NFL.
“When we do get the touches, just be a little more efficient,” Murray said. “We have to eliminate the negative runs and that’ll give us more opportunities, and I think Flip will call more opportunities.”
Scheming Vikings pass rush
If there is a blueprint strategy to beat the Vikings defense, it might be play-action passes and — at the heart of the concept — the misdirection fake handoffs create. Rams quarterback Jared Goff was sacked once last week while completing 14 of 17 play-action throws for 326 yards and two touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus.
Los Angeles’ heavy movement up front, opposed to Goff just dropping straight back to pass, limited the Vikings pass rush, according to defensive end Stephen Weatherly.
“It was a lot of sliding the whole front, play-action pass, boot-type stuff,” Weatherly said. “Trying to get us all going one way, so they can come back against the grain and have opportunities to throw, which really limits your chances to pass rush.”
Linebacker Kentrell Brothers rejoined the Vikings after his four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs was lifted over the weekend. The Vikings have a weeklong roster exemption on Brothers, meaning he can be with the team but can’t play until he is activated to the 53-man roster.
Brothers’ eventual return to play will most impact special teams, where he played nearly 70 percent of snaps last season. Vikings’ special teams play has improved since the issues that plagued them in Week 2 at Green Bay.
“I think having mistakes like that definitely makes you work on things and I feel like it’s forced us to get better in all the phases,” linebacker Eric Wilson said. “Not only with that, but with Kentrell back, it’ll definitely be good for the team.”
• The Vikings re-signed defensive end Jonathan Wynn to the practice squad and waived linebacker Garret Dooley. Wynn is an undrafted free agent from Vanderbilt who spent this summer at Vikings training camp.
• More on the Vikings offense leading the NFL in passing first downs: No receiver has more first-down catches through the first quarter of the season than Adam Thielen, who has turned 25 of his 40 grabs into a new set of downs.
• Vikings legend Alan Page will be grand marshal for the University of Minnesota’s homecoming parade Friday.