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Dalvin Cook is officially back on the field

This is not a drill! (But it is just OTAs.)

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been eight months since Dalvin Cook tore his ACL in a Minnesota Vikings’ loss to the Detroit Lions. On Tuesday at the new Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, he took a big step in his comeback.

According to Courtney Cronin of ESPN (among other sources), Cook officially participated in 11-on-11 drills today at the team’s OTAs in Eagan. This marks the first real, live football action that Cook has seen since his injury. Prior to today, Cook had been limited to individual work and rehabilitation drills, but was cleared to join the rest of his teammates for team drills on Monday.

Cook was wearing a brace on the injured left knee, and said that it felt pretty different being out there with a bunch of other players flying around again.

“It’s definitely different,” Cook said. “You go out there and rehab, and you try to get your body back in shape. But you think you’re in shape until you go take four reps back-to-back, and then you’re like, man, it’s a different type of shape you need to get in. Just getting back out there and just getting that feeling back out. Just to get your body back out there, I got to still take those steps. It’s a long process. I’ve got a long way to go. Just got to keep working.”

Prior to his injury, Cook was taking the NFL by storm, as he was second in the NFL in rushing in the three-plus weeks that he got to play prior to his injury. He was a big part of the Vikings’ offense, both in the run game (where he was getting just about all the carries prior to getting hurt), as well as in the passing game. While Mike Zimmer has said that Cook would be limited during OTAs, the feeling seems to be that he’ll be ready to go full speed when the team starts Training Camp here in about seven weeks.

The Vikings’ offense managed to sustain a high level of play last season, even after Cook went down. Re-inserting him into the offense, especially if he can stay healthy for longer than three games, is going to bring that dimension back to the Vikings, and I’d be willing to bet that Kirk Cousins will be more than happy to take advantage of it. For now, however, it’s pretty great just to find out that he’s on the field again.