Running back Dalvin Cook is listed questionable to play Sunday against the Lions, but sources told the Star Tribune on Friday that the Vikings’ plan is to return him to the field in a limited role.
Cook, who has missed five games because of a lingering hamstring injury, practiced all week and is expected to play 15 to 20 snaps against Detroit barring a setback during pregame warmups.
The Vikings had the same plan heading into the Oct. 14 game against Arizona, but Cook did not play after going through warmups.
The Vikings’ upcoming Week 10 bye is a factor in the decision, per head coach Mike Zimmer.
“Everything is part of the decision,” Zimmer said. “But if guys can play, they play. That’s just how we do it around here. So, we’re not going to worry about six weeks down the road or anything like that.”
Cook, who has 107 receiving yards to 98 rushing yards in three games, could provide a boost to the Vikings’ already-prolific passing attack.
“I don’t know how much it’s passing game or running game,” Zimmer said. “Just overall I think he’ll help us.”
Chasing a Mega record
Receiver Adam Thielen is a 100-yard game away from breaking ex-Lions receiver Calvin Johnson’s all-time NFL record of eight consecutive 100-yard receiving games set in 2012.
Thielen just happens to be chasing the record against Johnson’s former team in Detroit.
Thielen said he grew up a big fan of Johnson, known as ‘Megatron,” and even copied Johnson’s Georgia Tech jersey while playing in Detroit Lakes.
“I wore number 21 in high school, because he was 21 in college,” Thielen said. “He could block, he could run short routes, he could run deep routes and he’d catch everything.
“When people were draped all over him, he’d still make the plays.”
Receiver Stefon Diggs was unable to practice all week because of a rib injury suffered against the Saints. The Vikings held out hope Diggs can play by listing him as questionable on Friday.
Receiver Aldrick Robinson, who has five catches for 95 yards and three touchdowns, didn’t sound optimistic about his teammate playing. If Diggs is officially ruled out, Robinson is in line for a bigger role.
“With Stefon out, a lot of guys are going to play more,” Robinson said. “Me, Tread and Zylstra — all of us are going to play more.”
He was referring to Laquon Treadwell and Brandon Zylstra.
Left tackle Riley Reiff (foot), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (foot) and safety Andrew Sendejo (groin) are all listed as questionable to play against the Lions. Sendejo practiced in full on Friday, while Rhodes and Reiff were limited throughout the week.
Another change is likely should Reiff return. Rookie tackle Brian O’Neill remained at right tackle during the start of Friday’s practice with Reiff at left tackle, meaning the Vikings appear likely to demote Rashod Hill to the backup job if Reiff can return from his three-game absence.
Three Vikings have been ruled out: linebacker Anthony Barr (hamstring), guard Tom Compton (knee) and running back Roc Thomas (hamstring).
‘Tougher’ to plan
A wrench was thrown in the Vikings’ game-planning this week after the Lions traded receiver Golden Tate to the Eagles on Tuesday.
The problem is Tate was the Lions’ primary third-down option, so Zimmer and his coaches were left to figure out where Matthew Stafford’s throws will go on third downs.
“It makes it tougher,” Zimmer said. “Now we have to kind of figure out what are they going to do differently.
“Who’s going to be in there? Are they going to use [running back Theo] Riddick? Which is probably a pretty good option.”