Dalvin Cook lives to showcase his burst of speed.
As a former sprinter, Cook relished those race moments. When the gun went off, it would be time for the Florida native to shine. His quick feet and nimbleness made Cook one of the top sprinters in Florida, where he would eventually clock a personal best 10.08 seconds in the 100-meter dash.
Cook graduated from track to use his speed on the football field. And now, he is the premier running back for the Minnesota Vikings, a sixth-seeded playoff team in the Divisional Round.
Injuries have defined Cook’s career, most notably a torn ACL in his rookie season. During the 2019 campaign, Cook suffered a chest injury, limiting his performance and forcing him to miss the Vikings Week 16 game against the Green Bay Packers.
With the injury bug behind him, Cook is ready for another stellar playoff performance. After putting up 94 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries, Cook’s Vikings upset the New Orleans Saints on the road 26-20 in overtime.
This week, the Vikings are looking for similar success against the NFC leading San Francisco 49ers.
“I’m fine, just to let y’all know,” Cook said to reporters on Tuesday.
Dalvin Cook and his Football Roots
Dalvin Cook will be the 49ers’ primary target to contain Saturday afternoon. Cook’s vision of the field is second to none, allowing him to get to the outside with ease and fooling defenders with his cutback ability.
Whether it’s in the shotgun or in the I-formation, Cook knows where the hole is and he can burst through it with tremendous speed for huge gains. He can also be an effective catcher of the ball, evidenced by his three receptions for 36 yards against the Saints.
Cook’s prolific running attack started from his days playing at Miami Central High School and accelerated into college. His tenure with the Florida State Seminoles put Cook on the national map, averaging just shy of 1,800 scrimmage yards per year.
Whether it was the Orange Bowl against Michigan (207 scrimmage yards) or last week’s thrilling Wild Card victory, Cook was the center of the offensive production. Steamrolling defenses with his innate offensive skill set.
“I know they’re definitely going to challenge us in the run game early,” 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said. “Especially with Dalvin Cook back there, he’s one of the best in the league. We’ve just got to do a really good job with shutting that down early.”
Cook Plays Integral Role For Minnesota Vikings Offense
The Minnesota Vikings ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing yards per game (133.5). They have relied heavily on Cook and the running game to set up quarterback Kirk Cousins and the play action passing game.
The 49ers, on the other hand, are 17th in the league in run defense (112.6). This bodes to be problematic for San Francisco, which will need several interior defenders in the box to slow down Cook. The Saints run defense was fifth in the NFL (93.9), yet Cook was able to get almost 100 yards on the ground.
Cook knows that his time is now to prove his league-wide value. After all, injuries became a part of Cook’s narrative, as many pondered whether physical setbacks would linger every season. His 1,135 rushing yards rank 10th among running backs in the NFL, demonstrating how Cook has conquered the adversity of injury.
And turned it into motivation to capture NFL-wide respect. The Minnesota Vikings are not going away because of their running game and are a tough out in the playoffs.
“Dalvin is a special player,” Vikings offensive co-ordinator Kevin Stefanski said. “When he touches the ball, good things happen.
Dalvin Cook is a big reason for the team’s prosperity, looking to revel in the Divisional Round like competing in one of his former track meets.
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