'It's football': Vikings RB Dalvin Cook admits chippy style leads to big hits

Dalvin Cook #33 of the Minnesota Vikings is tackled by Aldon Smith #58 of the Dallas Cowboys in the second quarter during their game at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 22, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. ((Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images))

Dalvin Cook is the first one to admit he’s probably his own worst enemy when it comes to getting hit hard and extracurricular activity after the whistle.

He calls himself chippy, says he talks a lot of trash and is ready for what NFL defenses might throw at him. He took some especially hard hits in the Minnesota Vikings’ last two home games, against the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys.

Cook, who is second in the NFL in rushing with 1,130 yards and leads the league with 13 rushing touchdowns, gave Vikings fans the latest scare on Sunday. He fumbled in the third quarter, which Jeremy Chinn scooped and took for his second straight defensive touchdown. Cook went down in a heap of pain, and was helped off the field by two trainers without putting weight on his right leg.

After being evaluated, he was able to come back and finish the game.

“I ain’t here to call nobody out, do nothing like that, but it was a lot of stuff going on. You can look at the play and the play will tell you for itself. You’ve got guys on the pile that just don’t supposed to be down there, don’t supposed to be doing the things that they’re doing. That’s part of football,” Cook said. “I’m going to keep playing and just make the officials aware of what’s going on. I know the type of player I am, and I think that comes with it.”

Cook is not expected to have his role limited when the Vikings host the Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday. That decision is ultimately up to Mike Zimmer and the offensive staff.

“His health is fine so we’ll just keep going and try to be smart about how we use him. Every game is a different game so we’ll figure that out as we go,” Zimmer said.

Cook’s usage going forward is something to monitor the rest of the season. His 219 attempts is second in the NFL to Derrick Henry, and he’s also heavily involved in the pass game on screens.

Zimmer wants to run the football, and Cook has had at least 20 carries in six of the 11 games this season. He’s had 30 carries twice, and had at least 22 carries in six of the last eight games. He’s their best offensive player, and they’re going to ride him.

Cook scoffed at the idea that getting the ball as much as he does might take a toll on his long-term health.

“I’m a running back just like anybody else. I don’t think that’s a question you would ask Derrick Henry or anybody else. I’m a running back, I don’t wear down. I’m ready to tote the ball. It’s football,” Cook said.

While Cook didn’t call out any Panthers’ players specifically, he suggested some might have been grabbing the ankle and trying to twist it during his fumble. As one of the best running backs in the NFL, he has to be ready for just about anything in a game, dirty or not.

“Hits don’t bother me, it’s the unnecessary stuff that bothers me. But that’s football, it’s a physical game. This is the NFL, it’s what we signed up for,” Cook said. “I’m here each and every week, I’m ready to run the football.”