For the first time since suffering the initial chest injury Nov. 17 against the Broncos, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook did not practice Thursday while dealing with an additional injury to his left shoulder from Sunday’s victory over the Chargers.
Not only is Cook unlikely to play against the Packers on Monday night, a league source told the Star Tribune, but the Vikings are considering the possibility of not playing Cook in the regular-season finale against the Bears on Dec. 29. The Vikings would clinch an NFC wild-card berth with a 49ers win over the Rams on Saturday night or a win over either the Packers or Bears.
“It’s just about getting healthy,” Cook said when asked about playing through two injuries. “The pain and all that come with the game. You can bear so much, and you can do so much, but it’s all about being healthy. And I think that’s when I’m at my best for my team.”
Cook, a first-time Pro Bowl selection ranked third in the NFL with 1,654 yards from scrimmage, has capable backups in Alexander Mattison and Mike Boone. Mattison, the rookie drafted in the third round, also did not practice Thursday because of an ankle injury. The Vikings offense could be down to its No. 3 running back, Boone, against the Packers’ 24th-ranked run defense.
“We have a lot of confidence in Mike,” Zimmer said. “He’s done a good job, did a good job last week. Hopefully, we don’t need him.”
Cook clarified the new injury is to his left shoulder, separate from the reported right clavicle injury, according to NFL Media, suffered last month against Denver. The Vikings listed Cook with a chest injury on Thursday’s injury report.
After the eighth question Thursday about his injuries, Cook beckoned observers to look at the bright side.
“It’s just two different injuries,” Cook said. “It’s part of the game. It’s football. This ain’t the end of the world, y’all know that right? We’re still playing football. We’re winning. We won Sunday. I’ll be all right.”
Pro Bowl snubs?
Quarterback Kirk Cousins and his career-high 111.1 passer rating, linebacker Eric Kendricks and his position-leading 12 pass deflections and some other members of the Vikings locker room felt a little snubbed by the recent Pro Bowl rosters that included just three of their teammates. Cousins was overlooked in favor of the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, the Saints’ Drew Brees and the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson.
“It was a top-heavy NFC,” Cousins said. “There were a lot of good quarterbacks and a lot of players who could be justified in going, so there’s only so many spots. You understand that, and that’s OK.”
Cousins’ Monday record
Zimmer reiterated Cousins has been “outstanding” for the Vikings this season, but the 0-8 record of teams for which Cousins has quarterbacked on “Monday Night Football” resurfaced a few days before the prime-time kickoff against the Packers. Zimmer maintained it’s not all on Cousins.
“We’re just going to stick to that mantra,” Zimmer said. “Hopefully he has a great game, and hopefully we win, but it’s not all on him. We have 21 other players, and they have to go out and execute just as much as he does. But unfortunately, him and I get all the blame.”
Wide receiver Adam Thielen is off the injury report entirely for the first time since before his Oct. 20 hamstring injury, which forced him to miss most of two months. Cousins said Thielen’s prolonged absence challenged the Vikings offense in ways that Cook’s likely absence also might.
“When we didn’t have Adam and were still able to move the football and win football games, it reminds you there are other ways to win and you can be creative and reinvent yourself,” Cousins said. “It’s a similar challenge if we don’t have Dalvin.”