Vikings’ Cook making strong offseason comeback
By Dave Campbell
AP Pro Football Writer
EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings made a splash on the free agent market last month, with their fully guaranteed contract for quarterback Kirk Cousins and the signing of defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson for another instant upgrade for the starting lineup.
There’s another addition coming, too.
Running back Dalvin Cook, his promising rookie season cut painfully short at four games because of a torn ACL in his left knee , has passed the six-month mark in his rehabilitation and remains on track for full action when training camp begins.
He’ll be a limited participant in practices this spring and minicamp, head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman said, and has impressed the team at each stage of his recovery. There’s no reason why he won’t be ready to play in the season opener on Sept. 9.
“Dalvin’s knocked the rehab out of the park,” Sugarman said. “He’s done a great job. He’s been here every day since the injury occurred, post-surgery.”
The Vikings started their offseason workout program last week at their sparkling new training facility, with state-of-the-art equipment that certainly hasn’t hurt Cook’s quest to come back as the same dual-threat player who was briefly on display last season after being drafted in the second round out of Florida State .
Cook took part in strength and conditioning activities on the indoor turf with the rest of his teammates on Tuesday, when the Vikings opened a portion of the workout to reporters.
“You’ve got to trust yourself and know that you did everything in your power to get your knee back to where it’s at,” Cook said.
“I attacked this thing every day, and I did what I needed to do to get to this point, so I had no doubt when I first touched the field that it was where I wanted to be at.”
Cook had reconstructive surgery on Oct. 9. The first two weeks were the toughest part, with Sugarman pushing hard on his knee in the early struggle to regain that critical range of motion in the joint.
“You’re ready to hit him across the head,” Cook said. “It’s a lot. It really is, man. It’s the injury that can make you or break you. I chose the route that it wasn’t going to break me, so I’m going to move forward.”
There will be several more hurdles to clear, particularly those that involve a live defense across the line and ready to take Cook down to the turf. For now, three months before the toil and sweat of training camp arrives, there’s plenty to celebrate.
“This is kind of the fun part again for him to get back on the field to feel like a football player again,” Sugarman said.
As for Cousins, the past week has been about beginning the process of learning the offense and more importantly his new teammates.
He recently hosted wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs for a couple of days in the Atlanta area, where Cousins spends most of his offseason.
Becoming the leader can’t be forced, even though this will unquestionably be his team come fall.
“Everybody’s been very down to earth. There’s a humility there. There’s a formula there for success, and I sit in the team meetings and I see the organization,” Cousins said.
“I see the attention to detail and I see the professionalism, and it’s just no surprise why there was success last year.”