The Vikings were hopeful enough Friday to list Dalvin Cook as questionable for Sunday's home opener against a highly suspect Seattle run defense.
"He's doing much better," coach Mike Zimmer said, although the standout running back did not practice because of an ankle injury.
Zimmer, however, wouldn't say whether he thinks Cook will play. But when asked whether running backs typically are better at being 100% on game day with little to no practice, Zimmer said, "If you're asking about Dalvin, I think Dalvin can."
Listed as out for Sunday's game were linebacker Anthony Barr (knee), left tackle Christian Darrisaw (groin) and cornerback Harrison Hand, who missed last week's game with a hamstring injury and spent part of this week on the COVID-19 list before being taken off on Friday. Defensive end Everson Griffen, who missed last week's game because of a concussion, will play.
Seattle's weakness defensively is stopping the run. The Seahawks rank 31st in the league (162.5 yards) after giving up 182 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries to Derrick Henry in last week's 33-30 overtime loss to the Titans at home.
Meanwhile, Cook carried the ball 22 times for 131 yards (6.0) in the Vikings' 34-33 loss at Arizona. He injured one of his ankles late on a low hit by J.J. Watt.
Cook didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday. Nor did he do anything Friday during the portion of practice open to the media. After practice, Zimmer said Cook "did some [work]."
If Cook can't play, the Vikings' chances of avoiding an 0-3 start for the second straight year obviously diminish. Alexander Mattison, a quality backup, would get his third start in the past two seasons.
Last year, Mattison started against Atlanta in Week 6 and Detroit in the season finale. He had 26 yards on 10 carries against the Falcons, and 95 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries against the Lions.
Baby steps for Darrisaw
The wait on Darrisaw, the team's first-round draft pick, continues. The presumptive starter at left tackle is making slow but steady progress from groin surgeries.
"He's only taken team reps this week, so it's a process," Zimmer said. "He got about three reps a period. Next week, we'll get him going a little bit more and see where he's at. It's week to week."
As for Barr, Zimmer said the linebacker looked good this week.
Hand was close-contact case
The Vikings announced Wednesday that Hand was placed on the COVID-19 list. The fact he came off the list on Friday indicates he went on the list on Sunday.
Zimmer said Hand went on the list because of protocols concerning "close contact."
How's the kicker?
Kicker Greg Joseph is coming off two critical misses — a PAT and a potential game-winning 37-yard field goal as time expired — in last week's loss at Arizona.
Asked how Joseph's week of practice went, Zimmer said, "He did good. Seemed to have a good mind-set."