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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Cook injury stings much more than Vikings’ ugly loss to Lions

By Matthew Coller

The biggest difference between the Minnesota Vikings’ sputtering 2016 offense and dangerous 2017 offense has been running back Dalvin Cook. So when Cook went down on a non-contact play clutching his knee, hopes for the Vikings riding their offense to the playoffs may have gone down with him.

The Vikings’ loss to the Detroit Lions at US Bank Stadium included a number of forgettable moments. A fumble on a wildcat handoff, a missed field goal, a failed 4th-and-goal by Case Keenum, a fumble by Adam Thielen in the final moments. But if Cook is out for awhile, Vikings fans will remember the Lions game for nothing more than a here-we-go-again moment.

Shortly after Cook walked off the field, he was shown embracing running back’s coach Kennedy Polamalu. The two have become very close throughout training camp and early this season. The gesture certainly didn’t appear to be good news, neither did the speed in which the team announced Cook out for the game.

Over the first three-and-a-half games, the Vikings’ second-round pick from Florida State had not only proven himself as an all-around running back, but put his name on the map as one of the league’s best. He ranked second in rushing yards, gaining nearly five yards per carry and flashed the ability to be a weapon in the passing game with five catches for 72 yards against the Bucs.

With Keenum sputtering against the Lions, Cook was giving the Vikings offensive life. He pounded up the middle for 66 yards on 13 carries and scored his second career touchdown on a 5-yard run.

If Cook is out for a long period of time, the Vikings’ offense will be significantly hampered. Starting quarterback Sam Bradford is already out for an indefinite period of time and the Vikings’ other running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon have shown very little in their limited touches.

The offense will rest entirely on the shoulders of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. While both are top-notch receivers, it was clear from the 2016 version of the Vikings’ offense that two playmakers alone won’t be enough.

It would be an overreaction to call the season over, especially considering the incredible display put on by the Vikings’ defensive line, but the uphill battle just got a lot steeper.

In order to overcome a Cook absence, Minnesota will need a lot to go their way. Bradford will have to come back. The defense will have to stay healthy. Michael Floyd will have to bring a different dimension to the offense. Murray and McKinnon will have to be competent in the running game. The offensive line will have to be fantastic.

It’s a big ask.

So the loss to Detroit, while not pretty, is hardly as significant a blow as the possibility of being without Cook.

The post Cook injury stings much more than Vikings’ ugly loss to Lions appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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