EAGAN, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Dalvin Cook will see game action at some point during the preseason. Whenever that happens, and however many reps the second-year running back gets, Cook is eager to put the past 10 months in his rearview mirror and pick up where he left off before tearing his ACL.
“I’m going to be hyped as s---, I know that,” Cook said. “You’re going to be nervous, a little jitters, but once you get it out of the way, it’s time to go play some football. That’s going to be the thing with me.”
Zimmer said Cook is “ready now” for preseason action after going through four days of padded practices. The goal of getting Cook comfortable with contact, cutting and not showing signs of hesitation with his knee is one he reached midway through the week.
“I didn’t see any signs that he was holding back or anything,” offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said. “He really looks like he is trusting that knee.
"He is explosive. I thought he’s done a great job in pass protection. I don’t see any hindrance out of him at all. We are continuing to monitor his reps and making sure that knee stays healthy and stays fresh throughout camp. It’s a long camp until we get to the regular season.”
Minnesota will host a scrimmage Saturday night designed to resemble a normal practice with short-yardage situations, red-zone drills and some in-game scenarios, although Zimmer said he isn’t sure what Cook will participate in yet. And while the running back is ready to take one step further toward real-game speed, he knows he still has to slow play his excitement.
“You’ve been out of football for so long, you want to get out there,” Cook said. “You’re going to be kind of hard-headed to just go out there and do your thing, but you got to kind of idle this thing down and still take it day by day because it’s still a process I’m still going through and I’ve still got a long ways to go.”
Cook has shed the brace he wore on his left knee throughout spring workouts. Prior to returning to Minnesota for training camp, Cook said he tested his knee without the brace to see what it would be like to make lateral movement and cuts up the field. Once he felt confident without it, the running back informed the Vikings' training staff that he would not wear it anymore.
“They’re comfortable with it as long as I’m comfortable with it,” Cook said last week.
At the time of Cook’s injury, the running back was in the midst of an explosive rookie campaign. His 74 carries for 354 yards and two touchdowns along with 11 catches showed promise for what he aims to do this season. During the first full week of camp, Cook rotated through first team reps with Latavius Murray and jokingly tried to steal a third-team rep on Tuesday before coaches caught on.
Throughout his rehab process, Cook has often noted how he has felt ahead of schedule in getting his knee back to full health, which comes as no surprise to the second-year rusher given the way he has approached every day since last October.
“I know the work and the long hours I put in, the support staff I’ve got here and how the guys pushed me through my rehab process,” Cook said. “I ain’t surprised with where I’m at, but I am happy with where I’m at. I’ve just got to keep working from here and keep building the days.”