Running back Dalvin Cook sat out Wednesday's practice, despite coach Mike Zimmer saying Cook would get "a little" work, but the Vikings' priority is preparing their bell cow for another big workload Sunday as he nurses a sprained right ankle suffered on his 22nd touch against the Cardinals.
Coach Mike Zimmer was asked Wednesday whether he'd be cautious with Cook's September injury and 15 games remaining on the schedule.
"At this stage, it's time to get some wins," Zimmer said. "Dalvin's a tough guy. If he can't play, there's a reason why he's not playing. But he makes us go, so we're going to continue to play him."
There's no sign Cook will slow down, despite injuring his ankle when Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt tackled him low at the end of the Week 2 loss. Cook had to be replaced by Alexander Mattison on the final drive, when quarterback Kirk Cousins threw six straight passes to set up the potential winning field goal.
It was Cook's second exit against the Cardinals after suffering a stinger, a burning pain that occurs when neck and/or shoulder nerves are stressed, in the second quarter. Cook lay on the turf face down before Vikings trainers got to him.
"It was kind of unusual," Cook said. "I've been playing football since I was 4; that was my first stinger. It was kind of different for me. And then when I went down later, it was an ankle."
"Two different things, but I'm good," Cook added.
Cook plans to press forward Sunday against Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, an All-Pro whom Cook said forces him to "elevate" his game. He'll get plenty of chances.
Only one NFL running back — Carolina's Christian McCaffery — has more touches per game since the 2019 season than Cook, handling the ball 23.6 times each outing. He trails McCaffery's 25.6 touches, and is tied with Tennessee workhorse Derrick Henry.
Cook has been as elusive as ever while getting 50 of the Vikings backfield's 61 touches so far. Only McCaffery and Henry have more yards from scrimmage among NFL running backs than Cook, who has 252.
Barr, Griffen and Breeland among limited
Four starting defenders — plus defensive end Everson Griffen — were limited by injuries during Wednesday's practice. Linebacker Anthony Barr suited up with a compression sleeve on his injured right knee and practiced for just the second time in the past six weeks.
Cornerbacks Bashuad Breeland (back/shoulder) and Patrick Peterson (toe) were also listed as limited, although Breeland was not seen during the 10 minutes of practice open to reporters. Griffen remains in the concussion protocol after he was in a car accident on his way to the facility last week.
Linebacker Eric Kendricks is now listed with a hip injury after a quad issue forced him to miss a practice last week. Tackle Christian Darrisaw (groin) was also limited as he started his third straight week of practice.
'We'll throw the flag'
For the first time in at least 20 years, there were no coaches' challenges during Week 2. This came a week after only five of 14 challenges were overturned, according to ESPN, not including Zimmer's challenge in Cincinnati where he argued receiver Justin Jefferson broke the goal line on a 34-yard catch. The ruling that he did not was eventually upheld.
Zimmer said he'll continue throwing the red flag, even as there's uncertainty over which NFL official — Walt Anderson, a former referee, or Perry Fewell, a former coach — has the final say on reviews after Al Riveron retired this past offseason. The league has said both Anderson and Fewell, with different backgrounds and perspectives on calls, are in charge.
"If we think it's the wrong call," Zimmer said, "we'll throw the flag."
A brighter week for the O-line
Reviewing Sunday's loss in Arizona was "a lot more fun" for right guard Oli Udoh and the Vikings offensive line, which improved significantly from Week 1 while the offense produced 26 points and 419 yards against the Cardinals. Quarterback Kirk Cousins took just one sack and three other hits, while Cook had wider lanes to run through than in the Week 1 loss in Cincinnati.
Turning the page to Seattle has been just as fun. This week, Udoh and the offensive line have studied how the Titans offense, with Henry leading the way, ran for 212 yards in a comeback win against the Seahawks.
"Just being able to see they got the lanes," Udoh said, "we can definitely replicate that in our game plan. It'll be exciting to try to do that."
- Cornerback Harrison Hand, who missed Sunday's game in Arizona because of a hamstring injury, was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Hand, a defensive reserve, played 22 snaps on special teams in Week 1.
- Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson, the former Vikings draft pick, was named AFC special teams player of the week after he drilled all six kicks in Las Vegas' 26-17 win over Pittsburgh. Carlson has made 26 consecutive field goal attempts.