Dalvin Cook was just named NFC Offensive Player of the Month for his vital role in the Minnesota Vikings‘ bye week turnaround. Starting November at 1-5, Cook led the Vikings to a 4-1 record in November, totaling 832 all-purpose yards and seven touchdowns.
The Vikings (5-6) are now a game out of the final seed in the NFC playoff picture. But as the calendar month turns, reporters are weary over Cook’s sustainability as he received 28.8 touches per game in November — a considerable uptick from the 21.6 touches per game he saw in 14 games played in 2019, his first Pro Bowl season.
When asked about the possibility of wearing down in the final full month of the season, Cook clapped back at Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson.
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Cook: ‘That’s Not a Question You’ll Ask Derrick Henry’
Cook pivoted to a perceived double-standard in his eyes that Tennessee Titans star and leading rusher Derrick Henry wouldn’t receive the same question.
— Heavy On Vikings (@HeavyOnVikings) December 4, 2020
“I don’t know what that is. What is that, Chris. What is that — wear down? What does that mean?” Cook said in a press conference on Wednesday. “I’m a running back. I’m a running back just like anybody else. I don’t think that’s a question you’ll ask Derrick Henry or anybody else. I’m a running back. There’s no wearing down. I’m ready to tote the ball.”
The real reason why Derrick Henry wouldn’t receive a question of that nature: he’s missed just two games in his five-year career. The 6-foot-3, nearly 250-pound juggernaut is majorly the aggressor when running the ball as he’s bigger than most linebackers in the league.
Cook, on the other hand, ranks in the 38th and 36th percentiles in height (6-foot-1) and weight (210 pounds), respectively. Cook uses his speed (4.49 40-yard dash, 70th percentile) and size as a weapon to deliver the blow to defenders, however, it has come with concerns.
There’s been plenty of scares that have left fans holding their breath through November as defenses have begun to key on Cook.
- Week 11: Cook suffered an ankle injury that held him out of the Panthers game briefly.
- Week 10: Cook was shaken up after a hit delivered by Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson and kept him off the field the remainder of the first half.
- Week 9: Cook fell on the ball awkwardly and appeared to have the wind knocked out of him in the fourth quarter against the Bears. He returned just a few plays later.
While Cook has shown durability issues — missing 18 games in his first two seasons to hamstring injuries and two games in 2019 due to a shoulder injury —the major injuries are in the past as Cook has appeared in 34 of the past 37 Vikings games, including the playoffs.
Vikings Will Ride Cook in the Playoff Chase
After Cook suffered a groin injury that kept him out of the second half against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5, fans saw the difference he makes in the Vikings offense. The Vikings laid a dud against the Atlanta Falcons, quickly falling behind after three first-half turnovers by Kirk Cousins who had to shoulder the offense with backup running back Alexander Mattison being held in check early in the game.
Admittedly, Cousins has shared in the turnaround: going from the league’s leader with 10 interceptions at the bye week to throwing 12 touchdowns and one interception in the past five games.
With every game the rest of the season feeling like a must-win for, the Vikings will likely continue to predicate their offense around Cook, who has 1,130 rushing yards on the season and is chasing Henry (1257 rushing yards) for the league rushing title.
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.