Vikings’ tailback Dalvin Cook: ‘I still haven’t scratched the surface’
EAGAN, Minn. -- For the first time in his NFL career, Dalvin Cook enters an offseason feeling completely like himself. No distraction of the NFL Draft. No scrambling to find a place to live. No rehab on a catastrophic knee injury.
It’s been full speed ahead for Cook and he enters his third NFL season eager to prove he can still be the game-breaker the Vikings hoped he’d be when they selected him the second round of the 2017 draft.
“I’m getting back to how I used to feel,” Cook said this week during organized team activities at TCO Performance Center. “My confidence (is) out the roof. I feel great. I’ve had a great offseason.”
Admittedly, it has taken longer than he would’ve hoped.
While the Vikings entered last season withe Super Bowl aspirations, they failed to make the playoffs, leaving everybody with a bad taste in their mouths as they cleaned out their lockers and headed their separate ways last January.
“We left a lot on the table,” Cook said. “The main goal is to go win the Super Bowl, and we didn’t achieve our goal. We have a bitter taste in our mouth. We don’t want that taste in our mouth no more.”
While much has been made about Kirk Cousins’ big pay day last offseason, and Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen inking long-term extensions, Cook might end up being the most important part of the offense next season.
With the addition of veteran coach Gary Kubiak as an offensive adviser, it’s more or less assumed that the Vikings will place an added emphasis on the running game. In his career, Kubiak has made stars out of previous no-names like Terrell Davis, C.J. Anderson, and Arian Foster.
Cook might have more raw talent than any of those guys.
“You watch him and watch the things he does, his track record speaks for itself,” Cook said of Kubiak. “Let’s just say he can take a running back to the next level. … Everything he’s got planned for the running back, and everything he’s got planned for everybody on the offense, we’re going to buy into that 100 percent.”
It starts with Cook, who will have to step into more of a leadership role next season with the departure of veteran halfback Latavius Murray.
“He meant a lot,” Cook said. “He paved the way for the guys in the room. He set the tone. He taught us how things are supposed to be done … with how he approached practice and how he carried himself around this building. I learned so much from him. We learned so much from him. He passed the torch down and now it’s time to run with it.”
Cook has shown flashes of brilliance but has yet to sustain it over a full season. He blew out his left knee after a promising start to his rookie season, and while he bounced back last season he still missed five games because of a hamstring injury.
Head coach Mike Zimmer was so disenchanted with the running game, he fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo midseason.
As a pro, Cook has yet to gain 1,000 yards, the baseline for a successful running back. In 15 career games, he has 207 carries for 969 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Because of that, Cook said his main goal right now is to play a full season. If he can do that, he believes everything else will take care of itself.
“I feel like the ceiling is real high for me,” he said. “Everything I want is still in front of me. Everything I can do is still in front of me. I’m capable of doing a lot of things. I still haven’t scratched the surface yet.”