EAGAN (FOX 9) - We don’t yet know if Dalvin Cook will be on the field with the first-team offense Sunday night when the Minnesota Vikings host the Seattle Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium.
What we do know is that regardless of who is in the backfield, the Vikings are going to run the football. It’s why the front office brought in Gary Kubiak as an offensive advisor.
They did it in a variety of ways last Friday in their first preseason game at New Orleans. The Vikings ran 27 times for 213 yards in the win over the Saints. Rookie Alexander Mattison, starting so they could avoid injury to Cook, go three carries on his first NFL drive. He finished with nine carries for 30 yards, and caught his first touchdown from Kirk Cousins.
Cook has gotten the majority of the first-team carries at Training Camp practices, but the Vikings aren’t saying if he’ll see any preseason action. The players in the running back room don’t care who gets the ball, they just want to see success. It was evident after Mike Boone ripped off a 64-yard touchdown run, and Ameer Abdullah had a 42-yard run up the middle against the Saints.
Kirk Cousins also scrambled for an 11-yard gain on a third-and-long to keep the opening drive alive, which ended in a touchdown.
“We push each other, we root for each other and we’ve got each other’s back at the end of the day. When Dalvin does something good, it makes all of us want to go out there and continue that standard,” Mattison said.
Cook has played in just 15 games combined during his first two seasons. Two years ago, his season ended with a torn ACL after just four games. Last year, he battled a hamstring injury.
It’s why the team is in no hurry to play him in a game. That, and they like what they see during Training Camp practices.
“Most great players that I’ve been around in this business are workers. You come out here every day, you see why he’s a great player. He really works hard, he’s a big finisher at practice,” Kubiak said of Cook. “He’s a leader as well, really excited to work with him this year.”
The Vikings averaged nearly eight yards per carry in their first preseason game. That’s about double what they averaged last season, when they ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing.
“We did that the other night, it wasn’t all pretty so to speak, but then all the sudden we make a big play. That’s what we want to do, just want to make sure we don’t run away from it when it’s not always right,” Kubiak said.
The offensive line also didn’t give up a single sack last Friday. It’s a trend they hope to continue into Seattle Sunday night.
Though it’s a small sample size after Kirk Cousins was sacked 40 times last year, the second-most in his career. Kubiak said Thursday it’s about staying committed to what they’re doing at the line of scrimmage.
The Vikings should get a good test in their run game Sunday night against the Seahawks. They play as many as eight defenders in the box, and finished in the top half of the NFL in rushing defense last season.
Last week, the Denver Broncos ran for 91 yards on 20 carries against the Seahawks.
Zimmer put his offense through several team drills and situations on Tuesday with the goal of building more continuity and consistency on offense.
“We’ve been working a lot of situations so hopefully we get into some of those situations where they’ve, not rehearsed it, but they know what to do in those situations. They play an extra guy in the box, so it will be a little harder to run,” Zimmer said.
One preseason game and one drive for the first-team offense is a small sample size, but it also leaves tangible evidence that their offseason plan to work on the run game leaves something to build on.