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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Dalvin Cook has been exactly what Vikings’ offense needed

By Matthew Coller

In the Minnesota Vikings’ two wins, their passing game has been the center of attention as Sam Bradford and Case Keenum had career days in wins over the Saints and Bucs. But rookie running back Dalvin Cook has given the Vikings’ offense a dimension it was sorely missing last season.

When the Vikings drafted Cook in the second round, they dreamed of an all-purpose back with explosive-play speed, great vision, patience and the smarts to transition quickly into an NFL offense.

Through three games here are the results: Check. Check. Check. Check.

Through three games, Cook has 61 carries for 288 yards (4.7 yards per carry), one touchdown and 10 receptions for 82 yards.

His production has been a huge upgrade over last season in which the Vikings ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing.

Cook grinded out 97 yards and caught five passes on Sunday in the Vikings’ 34-17 win over the Bucs. He averaged an impressive 3.0 yards after contact and forced six missed tackles.

One particular play, a 36-yard reception late in the game, caught head coach Mike Zimmer’s eye.

“One of the things that showed up on that last third down we hit, he caught the ball and the deal was to stay in bounds but he kind of looked for someone to attack,” Zimmer said. “He’s a kid that I think is going to continue to get better, you saw some of the tough runs he made today.

Cook has played the role of closer, rushing for 233 of his 288 yards in the second half.

In his first two games, Florida State’s all-time leading rusher struggled in the passing game. He had several drops and only gained 10 yards through the air. That changed on Sunday.

“It felt good because sometimes teams tend to forget about running backs catching the ball out of the backfield and I think today they forgot about me a little bit,” Cook said. “Me and Case [Keenum] connected on a couple of passes and we got it going.”

Cook has even picked up on pass protection quickly despite rarely having to block at Florida State. According to Pro Football Focus tracking data, Cook allowed just one hurry in eight pass blocking snaps.

“If I can’t pass protect, I’m not going to be out there, plain and simple,” Cook said.

It’s hard not to notice the difference between Cook’s skill set and that of Adrian Peterson. No doubt, AP is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but Cook gives the Vikings something they haven’t had since Robert Smith. And in a league that consistently has seen record highs in passing yards/success, a versatile running back is a valuable weapon.

The post Dalvin Cook has been exactly what Vikings’ offense needed appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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