Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook has been playing like an All-Pro candidate in the first season where he looked on pace to play the most games in a single season of his career.
But after heartbreaking news that his father, James Cook, 46, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, Cook flew home to Florida and will not be available to play on Sunday against the Detroit Lions, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson reported that James Cook was a diabetic, although, the cause of death has not been confirmed.
Regardless of whether Cook would like to play Sunday in honor of his father, his leaving the team’s home state under league COVID-19 guidelines would require a quarantine period upon his return that would extend past Sunday’s game.
Cook, playing in 14 games, officially finishes the season with 1,557 rushing yards, third-most in franchise history and second in the league this season. He leads the league with 1,918 yards from scrimmage and is tied for second with 17 touchdowns on the season.
On Wednesday, The 25-year-old running back was awarded the Korey Stringer Good Guy Award, an annual honor the Twin Cities Pro Football Writers of America chapter offers to a Vikings player for his cooperation and professionalism with the media.
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Teammates Offer Condolences
In Wednesday’s media availabilities, often when Cook speaks to the media, Vikings players offer their condolences to Cook and his family.
“Dalvin lost his dad. It’s tragic news. I just found out this morning… very sorry to hear that,” Kirk Cousins said, adding that the Vikings are not rushing Cook back and want him to take all the time he needs. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Dalvin.”
Cousins said he hasn’t spoken with Cook, but said “I shot him a quick text… We’ll try to connect later this week.”
Justin Jefferson also offered condolences, while the team’s official Twitter account sent a message saying, “The entire Vikings organization is thinking of Dalvin and his family following the passing of Dalvin’s father, James Cook.”
Projected Running Backs in Season Finale
With Cook out and Alexander Mattison missing last week’s game due to a concussion, Mike Boone will likely be in line for primary running duties along with Ameer Abdullah to supplant on passing downs.
Boone started in the final two games last year under different circumstances — injuries to Cook and Mattison along with the Vikings already securing a playoff berth. He struggled against the Green Bay Packers, rushing for just 27 yards on 11 carries.
But against the Chicago Bears in last year’s season finale, Boone rushed for 148 rushing yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He averaged 5.12 yards after contact per attempt, largely due to a 75-yard touchdown scamper on the first play from scrimmage.
Minnesota may elevate another running back to the active roster barring Mattison’s likelihood to play on Sunday.
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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.