Dalvin Cook ran without limitations during Sunday’s 20-7 win against the Lions, less than a week after the running back was knocked from the Vikings’ loss in Seattle because of a painful shoulder injury through which he has vowed to play.
After 20 touches on 32 snaps, Cook took a seat at the end of the third quarter and watched Alexander Mattison and Mike Boone close the game. Cook finished with 75 yards from scrimmage and a rushing touchdown, his 13th of the season.
Most important, Cook said he escaped Sunday without further damage.
“I’m good. I’m good to go,” Cook said. “It’s a physical game. They got some big guys over there in Detroit. I came out healthy — clean, so that’s a positive sign.”
Running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu, a driving force in deciding the Vikings’ rotation, opted against spelling Cook differently after the Vikings star was limited for two practices last week.
Cook handled his typical heavy workload with 14 of the 22 backfield touches in the first half while playing 24 of 39 snaps before halftime. The only difference, according to coach Mike Zimmer, was a quicker hook.
Cook did not see the field in the fourth quarter of a blowout win.
“We got him out of there fairly early,” Zimmer said.
Mattison, the third-round rookie, continued to be reliable in short bursts. He’s a hard runner who often falls forward when tackled, helping Mattison gain 51 yards on his first 10 touches before Detroit loaded its fronts to stop the run in the fourth quarter. The division of labor, according to Mattison, was unchanged.
“We kind of just go with the flow,” said Mattison, who finished with 46 rushing yards and 18 receiving yards. “When [Cook] needs one or KP [Kennedy Polamalu] wants me to get a play or anything like that, that’s when my number is called.”
Running back Ameer Abdullah continued to be involved in hurry-up and passing situations, giving the Vikings backfield a variety of weapons. With fullback C.J. Ham, a trusted blocker in all situations, there is little for which these running backs aren’t equipped.
“This group is special,” Ham said. “No matter who is on the field, we trust everybody out there.”
The Vikings’ 120 rushing yards against the Lions marked the ninth time the offense surpassed the century mark in 13 games. They’re 8-1 when running for more than 100 yards this season and, as long as Cook stays healthy, that mark may be achievable every week.
“We push ourselves so much to get the running game going, no matter if it’s 2, 3 yards,” Cook said, “to keep Kirk [Cousins] ahead of the sticks so he can make good decisions.”