When it was suggested Wednesday that Dalvin Cook was in and out of the lineup in last Sunday’s 14-7 loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Minnesota Vikings running back took issue.
“I wasn’t in and out of the lineup,” he said. “I came up one time. It’s part of the game. I’m not 100 percent yet. Still working to get back to where I need to be.”
Limited to nine carries, and 34 yards, against the Browns, Cook remains sidelined by the ankle injury that kept him out of the Vikings’ 30-17 victory over Seattle on Sept. 26. On Thursday’s injury report, he was listed as a non-participant in practice for the second straight day.
Alexander Mattison didn’t do much against the Browns, either, running 10 times for 20 yards against a Cleveland defense that held the Vikings to 267 total yards. But he ran for 112 yards in the Vikings’ lone victory, 30-17 over Seattle on Sept. 26.
Asked about Cook’s status on Thursday, offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak said, “Obviously, we don’t want to put Dalvin in a bad situation. We want to be smart with him. We never want to put him out there where we can injure himself more.”
So will Cook play against the Lions?
“I’ll just say that Dalvin is always ready to go and always ready to help the team, regardless of his health status,” Kubiak said. “We just have to rely heavily on the trainers.”
Pierce still out
Also out Thursday were defensive tackle Michael Pierce (elbow) and kick returner Ihimir Smith-Marsette (toe).
Pierce was taken out of Sunday’s game in the second half, and head coach Mike Zimmer said he got a magnetic resonance imaging exam on his arm Monday. Assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson said Wednesday that Pierce was “doing OK.”
“He’s in the training room, rehabbing, and we’ll see how the week goes with him,” Patterson told reporters. Third-year interior lineman Armon Watts played more in Pierce’s absence and finished with a season-high six tackles.
“Armon played very well in the game for us on Sunday,” Patterson said. “I feel very comfortable with him, and giving James Lynch a chance to play if (Pierce) can’t play, so I feel comfortable with my group and don’t have any concerns about it.”
Lynch, a second-year lineman, has yet to play this season.
Linebacker Nick Vigil did not practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury but was a full participant Thursday, a promising development because Anthony Barr remains on track to play his first game since Sept. 20, 2020, on Sunday.
Barr, out since injuring his right knee in preseason camp, has been replaced by Vigil as the second every-down linebacker beside Eric Kendricks in the first four games. He returned an interception for a touchdown in a 34-33 loss at Arizona in Week 2.
If Barr can play, Vigil would become the third linebacker in base sets and could spell Barr, who hasn’t played a game in more than a year after missing all of last season with a pectoral injury that required surgery.
“I think Nick Vigil’s done a really nice job in a lot of the areas,” Zimmer said Wednesday. “He’s very smart, very diligent.”
Barr, however, has been playing in Zimmer’s system since he was the ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft. He’s a four-time Pro Bowl player.
“There’s certain things we can do with him that we haven’t been able to do in these first four ball games,” Zimmer said.
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland, who left the Browns game early with an illness, has been a full participant twice this week. Corner Kris Boyd, sidelined Sunday by an ankle injury, was a full practice participant for the second day.