Vikings RB Dalvin Cook earns NFC Offensive Player of the Week after win over Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 10: Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) scores a touchdown during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings on November 10, 2019 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Fresh off recording 183 total yards and a touchdown in a 28-24 win at Dallas on Sunday Night Football, Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.

Cook had 26 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys. He was also the Vikings’ leading receiver with seven catches for 86 yards. Through 10 games, Cook leads the NFL in rushing with 991 yards and has 10 rushing touchdowns, which rank third in the league.

Simply put, he’s been the Vikings’ best offensive player since they’ve won five out of their last six games after a 2-2 start. He’s getting more involved in the passing game as the season evolves, making life difficult on opposing defenses.

“I like to have the ball in my hands so I knew I’d have to catch the ball. So I’ve worked on it a lot, I still work on it a lot. Catch as many balls as I can in practice. As long as I have the ball in my hands, I think something special could happen so I knew catching the ball had to be involved,” Cook said Wednesday as the Vikings start preparations to face the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

It’s his third season in the NFL, but the first in which he’s been able to stay fully healthy, at least so far. Cook played the first four games of his rookie season before suffering a torn ACL. He missed five games last season dealing with a hamstring injury.

But he’s been 100 percent this season, and has provided the spark for the Vikings’ offense. His teammates aren’t surprised.

“I’ve been a huge fan for a while so I’ve watched him pretty close for a while. We all knew that he was special, everybody gets to kind of see it now,” said wide receiver Stefon Diggs. “I’m just happy to see him get the respect that he deserves. We’ve got a long season ahead of us and he’s going to be a huge, huge part.”

Cook has been the catalyst in the Vikings’ run game, which currently ranks third in the NFL, averaging 153 yards per game. He has five 100-yard games, including three straight to open the season, and ran for a season-high 154 yards in a Week 2 loss at Green Bay.

Cook is currently averaging 4.8 yards per carry. His greatest attribute might be his overall physical running style. He rarely goes down on first contact.

“I always knew that he was a terrific runner, but I think the other two things – how hard he runs and then the first person typically doesn’t tackle him, has been really impressive,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “Then the other part is when he gets the ball in space, people can’t catch him. He just has that extra gear.”

We got our first glimpse of a healthy Cook in the third preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals. He took one carry for an 85-yard touchdown, and didn’t see the field again until Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons.

He’s becoming a bigger weapon in the passing game for Kirk Cousins as the season evolves. His seven catches Sunday night are a season-high, and the 86 yards tied a season-high. Cook has at least four catches in six of the Vikings’ 10 games this season. The Vikings are 4-2 in those games.

“It’s a variety of ways we get him the football and ultimately, if we can just toss him the ball, I think that’s preferred to just let him go run. He’s done a great job making people miss,” Cousins said. “It seems that the first person in the open field really struggles to bring him down single-handedly. Whatever the word is for that trait, he’s got it.”

This is the second NFC Player of the Week award in Cook’s three seasons in the NFL. He previously earned NFC Player of the Week honors for his Week 15 performance against Miami in 2018. 

Cook’s skill and speed in the backfield and his ability to make plays in the passing game should keep him involved in the early discussion for NFL MVP.