Vikings RB Dalvin Cook says he was 'never injured, got banged up' this season

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrated after scoring a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons in the third quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, September 8, 2019 at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Photo by Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune vi

Dalvin Cook may have made things more confusing on Tuesday talking about his 2019 season, but the bottom line is he’ll be ready to go when the Minnesota Vikings face the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.

Cook played in his first game since sitting out losses to the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears in last Sunday’s 26-20 overtime win at New Orleans in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. He had 28 carries for 94 yards and two touchdowns, and had three catches on five targets for 36 yards. It was his first career playoff game. He missed the playoffs after the 2017 season as he was rehabbing a torn knee ligament.

He left the third quarters of both the Vikings’ wins over the Lions and at the Chargers after hurting his shoulder. The pain actually began after leaving the Monday Night Football game against the Seattle Seahawks in the second half with a chest or shoulder injury.

Cook said Tuesday as the Vikings start preparations for the 49ers he never had an injury this season, he was just in pain.

“I ain’t never got injured, I got banged up. Injuries and being banged up, that’s two different things. I didn’t get injured this year, I got banged up,” Cook said. “We took a precaution, sitting me out. They’re taking care of me so I can be ready for the stretch.”

While many focus on how Kirk Cousins plays in big games, Cook is what makes the Vikings’ offense go. He leads the Vikings with 1,229 yards and 13 touchdowns in 14 games, and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. His 519 receiving yards was second on the team during the regular season behind Stefon Diggs, and his 1,654 total yards from scrimmage in 14 regular season games led the Vikings.

Cook has five 100-yard rushing games on the season, but hasn’t gone over 100 yards since the Vikings’ Week 7 win at Detroit. With Cook near 100 percent Sunday, the Vikings managed 362 total yards, including 136 on the ground, against a Saints’ defense ranked sixth in the NFL and fifth against the run.

He’s ready for whatever the game calls for against the 49ers on Saturday. Last week’s win over the Saints marked the first time the Vikings complete first-team offense was on the field since a Week 6 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Adam Thielen returned Sunday, and after an early fumble and penalty, had seven catches for 129 yards. His 43-yard grab from Kirk Cousins down to the 2-yard line set up the game-winning score to Kyle Rudolph in overtime.

On more than one occasion this year, Cousins has labeled Cook a "special, special player and a great teammate."

Cook will likely get a heavy workload again Saturday, facing a 49ers’ defense ranked No. 2 in total defense and 16th in rushing defense in the NFL.

“We’ve got the playoffs. We’re having fun, I’m good. Everybody on the team is good. We got the starting lineup that we started with Day 1 going into this thing. I’m fine, just to let y’all know,” Cook said. “It’s all about us at this point, you don’t have to worry about me.”

The Vikings held a light walk-through on Tuesday to begin their preparations for Saturday afternoon. The lone absences were Mackensie Alexander (knee) and Stefon Diggs, who was apparently out with an illness.