Running back Dalvin Cook is dealing with a shoulder injury in the Vikings’ 28-27 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday, while safety Harrison Smith missed the game while dealing with a concussion he suffered in a Week 2 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Head coach Kevin O’Connell offered encouraging updates for both players, however, neither are out of the woods quite yet with an uncharacteristically short turnaround ahead.
Dalvin Cook is Day-to-Day, Harrison Smith Clears Concussion Protocol
In a September 26 virtual press conference, O’Connell revealed that Smith has cleared concussion protocol and should join team activities this week ahead of a short week of practice before leaving for London.
However, O’Connell pumped the brakes on Cook, who was initially reported to play with a shoulder brace in Week 4. The Vikings coach said the Pro Bowl running back is day-to-day with a subluxed shoulder, which occurs when the shoulder bone slides in and out as opposed to a full dislocation.
The last time Cook played with a shoulder brace was last season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was barely encumbered, taking 27 carries for 205 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Cook received rousing respect from an otherwise stoic Mike Zimmer last season for his performance against Pittsburgh.
“I think he’s a warrior. He comes out and competes. He’s a great leader. He’s a great competitor he wants to play,” Zimmer said in a postgame press conference on December 9. “Eric Sugarman, our trainer, texted him today and said, ‘Hey, are you sure you’re okay? You’re good to go?’ He says, ‘I have no regrets. I’m good to go. This is why I do this, ’cause I want to play.’ That’s the kind of guy he is.”
If Cook has his way, he’ll be on the field on Sunday, however, the new regime under O’Connell has prioritized player safety from the get-go — pulling back on full-contact practices during training camp — and will follow a procedure in determining Cook’s Week 4 status.
“He’s dealt with that at times, but I think it’s something he’s prepared to try to play with while also knowing we’re going to do what’s best for him to make sure we can have him as much as possible throughout the ins and outs of the rest of the season,” O’Connell said. “We’ll take it, it truly is a day-to-day thing, see how the management goes, but he wants to be out there with his teammates.”
The Vikings depart for Sunday’s game in London on Thursday night, offering three days of practice at home facilities to evaluate Smith and Cook.
Vikings Open as Week 4 Favorites Versus Saints
The Vikings enter Week 4 as 2.5-point favorites over the Saints, per Tipico Sportsbook.
Minnesota (2-1) is coming off a bounce-back performance over the Lions after falling to the Eagles in Week 2. New Orleans (1-2), after clawing back for a 27-26 victory over the winless Atlanta Falcons in Week 1, has dropped two straight games to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (20-10 on September 18) and Carolina Panthers (22-14 on September 25). Jameis Winston has thrown five interceptions in those two losses.
The Vikings are 4-0 in international games, which spells well for Minnesota playing at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. The game kicks off at 8:30 a.m. CT on NFL Network on October 2.