The Vikings (10-4) are reported to be heavily leaning toward holding out star running back Dalvin Cook in their Week 16 showdown with the Packers (11-3) in preparation for the playoffs as he nurses a shoulder injury, according to both ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Courtney Cronin. The plan would also include the Vikings shutting him down for their regular-season finale at home against the Chicago Bears with just a 3 percent chance of them being left out of the postseason picture at this point.
Cook, who has rushed for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, has been one of the Vikings’ biggest assets this season and would pose a serious challenge to the Packers run defense. He had his best game of the season against the Packers in Week 2’s loss at Lambeau Field when he ran for 154 yards and a 75-yard touchdown on 20 carries.
Cook had been dealing with a shoulder injury he sustained in Week 11’s win over the Denver Broncos and had it aggravated when he was taken down on a pitch-play run in last week’s third quarter. It was a chest injury listed for Cook, though, on team’s injury report this week as he was sidelined in Thursday’s practice along with fellow rusher Alexander Mattison.
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Who Fills Out Vikings’ Rushing Attack?
If Cook doesn’t play, the primary responsibilities would normally fall to Mattison as the only other Minnesota running back with at least 100 carries. He is gaining an average of 4.6 yards per carry and has a number of big runs this season, despite just one touchdown. His injury, though, is a little concerning for the Vikings with so much at stake and makes it worth looking at the other options.
The Vikings have turned to either Cook or Mattison in more than 80 percent of their rushing attempts this season, but Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah are the next closest backs with roughly 160 yards between them. The second-year Boone seems the likelier to get the ball after rushing for 56 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Vikings’ 39-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
Packers Mostly Injury-Free
Apart from Alex Light missing Thursday’s practice with an illness, the Packers are looking pretty good in terms of health as they head into their sixth prime-time game this season.
Starting cornerback Kevin King was a full participant at practice after dealing with a shoulder injury over the past few weeks, which is an encouraging sign after he played through it during last week’s game against Chicago. There were also several veterans getting their usual rest days, including right tackle Bryan Bulaga, cornerback Tramon Williams and tight end Marcedes Lewis.
Otherwise, Jimmy Graham was listed with wrist and groin injuries while linebacker Blake Martinez continued to battle his hand and calf issues, limiting both of them Thursday.