One of the biggest stories of Minnesota Vikings Training Camp thus far has been the progress of star running back Dalvin Cook. Cook suffered an ACL injury that robbed him of all but three and a half games of his rookie season in 2017, but the word that’s been coming out of the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center is that he’s running like he had been prior to his injury.
On Friday, Cook got an opportunity to address the media for the first time at this year’s camp, and he says he’s ready to go for the preseason opener against the Denver Broncos and the start of the regular season. Here’s the entirety of what he had to say to reporters.
Q: Are you continuing to be pleased with how you’re progressing and getting back into team drills?
A: Yes, definitely. I’m getting in the swing of things, getting back in my groove. I’ve been out of football without pads for so long so I am just trying to get back in the groove to seeing things and just getting back to my old self and even better.
Q: Are you hoping to get a few snaps tomorrow or is it too soon?
A: I don’t know the plan yet. Whatever plan they got for me, I am just going to go out there and do what I have to do on my behalf. I know they know what is best for me. They know how this thing is supposed to go so whatever they have planned for me, I am just going to go out and do my part.
Q: How is the process of balancing rehab and learning a new offensive scheme?
A: Rehab is a mandatory thing. You know that. Learning the plays is mandatory. You have to put it half-and-half. At night, I pick the playbook up and hit that hard a lot. During the day, let’s focus in on getting my body right. You have to put your priorities where you need to put them at. I have my schedule down and routine going. I just stick to it with how I go about on a daily basis.
Q: Do you know if you will play in the preseason game yet?
A: No, I don’t know yet. Like I said, whatever plan they have for me, I am going to just go out there and do my part. I don’t know what they have planned for me yet, but we’ll see coming up.
Q: Are you ready if they have you play in the preseason?
A: We are ready to go. We are ready to go. That is with anybody. You’ve been out of football for so long, you want to get out there. You are going to be hard-headed to go out there and just do your thing. You still have to take it day-by-day. It’s still a process I’m still going through it. I still have a long ways to go.
Q: Are you surprised that ten months ago you were coming off the field with a horrible injury and now you’re cutting and playing 11-on-11?
A: I’m not surprised. I know the work and long hours I put in. I know the work I put in. The support staff I have here and how the guys pushed me through my rehab process, I’m not surprised with where I am at. I am happy with where I am at. I just have to keep working from here and keep building the days.
Q: What are your impressions of the offensive line so far?
A: They have been moving the line of scrimmage, I can tell you that. There has been holes open and we’ve been hitting them. We can only get better from here. Our offensive line knows how to get the job done. Last year it showed that. We added a couple of guys. We can only get better from here. We just have to keep working. Whatever we want to accomplish, it’s right in front of us. If we keep putting the work in, we will be alright.
Q: How long does it take you to feel comfortable behind a certain group?
A: You never know what will occur. You try to get a good feel for every group, whatever group. The first group we had out there, it takes a couple of days, a couple of weeks. You never know how the timing works out. You will feel it when you know you have it down pat. There’s always a feeling inside you and the offensive linemen, they know. When things are hitting and when things are getting going, it’s a feeling. Once you get that feeling, let’s go.
Q: With the mixing of personnel, is that first feeling speed or field vision?
A: Once you get a rhythm of a play, you have it down. You always keep that rhythm of the play. Everybody knows where the play is supposed to hit at and where everything is supposed to go. It’s all about having that rhythm, rhythm about everything. Once you have that rhythm down, you got it now. Everything else you take over with your ability.
Q: Do you think you’ll be nervous with your first handoff?
A: I am going to be hyped, I know that. I’ll tell you that. You are always going to be nervous before a game. If anybody tells you different, it’s a lie. You are going to be nervous, little jitters. Once you get it out of the way, it’s time to go play some football. That is going to be the thing with me. Once I get that out of the way it’s time to play football. A little nervousness is going to be there.
Q: How has your relationship with Latavius Murray grown since you got here?
A: Latavius is like a big brother to the whole room. It’s crazy because we were with MJD [Maurice Jones-Drew] the other day and Latavius was under him. Latavius was the little brother. Now Latavius is the big brother. We are looking up to him. We learned a lot from Latavius how he carried himself in the building, the way he approached meetings, the way he studied. Just the way he knows things, it’s like, “That is a veteran move”, everything he does. Our relationship has grown and it is going to keep growing over the season. We look forward to a big season and something special from the whole group.
Q: How much does it mean to you to see how Latavius Murray carries himself?
A: He is the ultimate pro. Off the field, Latavius just carries himself like he’s about business. The school part is big on his behalf. To get his degree and to go back and do that, that takes a lot. Football keeps you busy. For him to do that, I respect him for that. That is why he is the big brother in the room.