Rehabbing Vikings RB Dalvin Cook: 'I'm still that same guy'
EAGAN, Minn. — Dalvin Cook passed another test in his recovery from knee surgery, practicing with his teammates for the first time in more than eight months Tuesday, June 5, as the Vikings running back aims to pick up where he left off during his dynamic rookie season last fall.
Minnesota's medical staff this week cleared Cook to participate in full team drills after he spent the first six weeks of the offseason program only performing individual drills. The Vikings will be cautious with his workload this spring, but Cook expects to be at full strength for the 2018 season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.
"I was excited to get back into action, get in there and get some live reps, some live bullets, just to see where I'm at myself; analyze myself," Cook said. "I was excited when (head trainer Eric) Sugarman broke the news to me. It's another milestone in the rehab process."
Cook's 2017 season ended in Week 4 when he tore his left anterior cruciate ligament against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium. The second-round draft pick went down without contact and was lost for a season in which the Vikings finished 13-3 and reached the NFC championship game.
He averaged 4.8 yards per carry and was on pace for 1,416 rushing yards and eight touchdowns before he was injured.
"I'm still that same guy," Cook said. "I'm still Dalvin Cook. I haven't left. The motivation is still there. The talent is still here, just a little older, that's it."
Cook is eager to work under new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, not only carrying the ball out of the backfield but participating more in the passing attack as well.
"It's an offense that I've always wanted to be in," he said. "Coach DeFilippo just wants to get his guys in space and give them the ball. Let us make plays. He just wants us to run free. There's a lot of green grass for everybody on the field for us to run, so we've just got to go out there and make plays for him because he's going to call the right stuff."
The Vikings will not practice in full pads until training camp in late July. Coach Mike Zimmer said this stage of Cook's rehabilitation is about him re-acclimating to carrying the ball in traffic as opposed to determining what he can do with it.
"It's more about trying to get him comfortable with 11 or 22 players around him," Zimmer said.
Cook said the past eight months have challenged him to trust the rehab process and value every rep he gets in practice.
"It's definitely different," he said. "You go out there and you rehab and you try and get your body back in shape. You think you're in shape until you go take four reps back to back and you're like, 'This is a different type of shape you have to get in.' It's a long process. I've got a long way to go and I've got to keep working."