Dalvin Cook appears to have avoided serious injury, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, after the star running back strained his groin in the third quarter of Sunday’s 27-26 loss in Seattle.
Cook underwent an MRI on Monday that went “pretty well,” Zimmer said, and the fact Cook didn’t end up on injured reserve indicates the Vikings believe his injury will cost him fewer than three games, if any at all.
Zimmer acknowledged Cook has a chance to play Sunday against the Falcons, but the Vikings also have a Week 7 bye that could give him two weeks of rest.
“We’ll see how he does this week,” Zimmer said Monday.
The Vikings’ backfield found a new gear against the Seahawks, with backup Alexander Mattison stepping into Cook’s heavy workload and finishing with a career-high 20 carries for 112 rushing yards. Mattison, the second-year back, has filled in for Cook during games, but would get his first NFL start against Atlanta, if Cook is sidelined.
“He’s been in that role before,” Zimmer said. “I don’t think that’ll change [the offense] at all.”
Cook’s game-breaking ability has paced the Vikings offense, which has three straight games with at least 410 yards. He remains the NFL’s leading rusher with 489 yards and seven touchdowns in five games, and just started to get involved again as a receiver in Seattle.
Cook and Mattison combined for a season-high eight catches for 48 receiving yards, many of the plays from screens, giving quarterback Kirk Cousins another way to move the chains when he’s got both running backs healthy.
“That was a big factor for us,” Zimmer said. “Really, it’s different every single week by who you’re playing and how they’re defending the backs and the coverages they’re running. Hopefully, we’ll continue to get it going good.”
Cook, who has appeared in 34 of 53 games so far in his NFL career, has dealt with shoulder, ACL and hamstring injuries, and said he wanted to make this fourth season his first playing 16 regular season games.
The Vikings offense has relied on him. Only three running backs — Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott, Las Vegas’ Josh Jacobs and Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon — have more than Cook’s 104 touches this season.
Cook refocused his offseason training regimen in Fort Lauderdale around weightlifting — “putting on some more muscle, and putting it on the right way,” he said — in an effort to be more durable, but this groin injury is the latest test.
“It’s all about being on the field for my teammates,” Cook said last week. “That’s the main goal.”