Running back Dalvin Cook posted 130 rushing and receiving yards for the Vikings on Sunday in his return from chest and shoulder injuries. When asked how he’s doing after handling a 31-touch workload, Cook said he’s feeling fine — in part because he was “banged up,” not injured.
“ ‘Injured’ and ‘banged up’ are two different things,” he said. “We took a precaution of sitting me out, taking care of me so I could be ready for the stretch. I was good. I never get down about being hurt. That comes with the game, comes with playing physical and playing my position. Some guys can shoulder the load a little different. Some guys are different. I’m just a little different than other guys. I can play through a lot of things. I just got banged up. I didn’t get injured.”
The running back’s 28 carries on Sunday were a season high, and his 31 touches were his second most of the year, behind the 33 he logged in Dallas on Nov. 10.
“We’re in the playoffs; we’re having fun. I’m good. Everybody on the team’s good. We got our starting lineup that we started with Day One, going into this thing. I’m fine, just to let y’all know. It’s all about us at this point; it ain’t really about me.”
Alexander has surgery
Two days after Mackensie Alexander showed up on the Vikings injury report with a knee injury that limited him in the final regular-season practice, the team had the cornerback on the field for a Week 17 game in which it sat many of its starters.
Now, Alexander will miss the Vikings’ second playoff game after having surgery on his knee.
According to an NFL source, the cornerback had an operation to repair a meniscus tear and will be out for Saturday’s divisional playoff game against the 49ers. It remains to be seen if Alexander could return in time for the Super Bowl, should the Vikings advance that far, but if the team’s season ends before the cornerback can return, it’s possible Alexander has played his last game for Minnesota.
The 2016 second-round pick will be a free agent after this season and could opt to test the market after a two-year stretch that saw him improve in coverage and turn into an effective pass rusher as part of the Vikings’ blitz packages. He posted a career-high four sacks last season, taking advantage of free runs at quarterbacks after holding his disguise long enough to avoid teams devoting protection to him.
Diggs out because of illness
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs missed the Vikings’ short practice on Tuesday because of illness, sitting out as the team got back to work after Sunday’s win in New Orleans. Diggs, who posted a picture of himself receiving IV fluids on his Instagram account on Monday, was the only player other than Alexander not seen in the brief open portion of practice.
The Vikings’ first session of the week was effectively a walk-through, which lasted fewer than 45 minutes. The team called its first injury report of the week an estimation and listed Linval Joseph (knee) and Jayron Kearse (knee/toe) as non-participants, in addition to Diggs and Alexander.
Browns the only option for Stefanski
The Panthers, who had been scheduled to interview Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski this week for their head coaching job, filled the opening by hiring Baylor head coach Matt Rhule on Tuesday.
That, and the Giants’ decision to hire former Patriots assistant Joe Judge, means the NFL’s only current head coaching opening is with the Browns. Cleveland is scheduled to talk to Stefanski this week after making him one of their two finalists for the head coaching job that went to Freddie Kitchens last year.