It took just one carry by Dalvin Cook last Sunday for Chuck Foreman to know that the Minnesota Vikings’ star running back wasn’t fully healthy.
Cook returned against Cleveland after missing one game with a sprained right ankle. He carried nine times for 34 yards in the 14-7 loss.
“I could tell right away that Dalvin wasn’t the guy we usually see,” said Foreman, a star Vikings running back from 1973-79. “I could tell he wasn’t 100 percent because it’s usually two steps and he’s gone.”
With that in mind, Foreman believes it would have been prudent for Cook to sit out the Browns game. Foreman said he saw Cook at the team hotel last Saturday and Cook indicated he was going to play, but Foreman said he didn’t offer any opinion then on the subject.
“I give him credit for going out there and trying, but I probably would have held him out one more game because you don’t want a Dalvin Cook that’s 60 percent,” Foreman said. “You want Dalvin Cook as 100 percent. But one thing I’m glad to see is that they didn’t overdo it (with him against the Browns). Once they saw he wasn’t doing the things that he normally does, they put somebody else in there.”
After Cook came up limping, he was in and out of the lineup in the second half. But he was in the game for Minnesota’s final drive.
“I don’t think it was an issue,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said of Cook’s injury after the game. “He came out of the game one time a little gimpy. We took him out for a while, then he said he was good, and he went back in.”
On Monday, Zimmer didn’t offer much about Cook’s ankle moving forward, saying only, “He said he feels good today.” The Vikings return to practice Wednesday in preparation for Sunday’s game against Detroit at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Cook, who hasn’t been available for comment since last week, hurt his ankle in a 34-33 loss Sept. 19 at Arizona but remained in the game. He sat out a 30-17 win Sept. 26 against Seattle, and said last week that he “can’t be out there if I’m not explosive or not able to help my team win a football game.”
With Cook out against the Seahawks, backup Alexander Mattison got the start and tied his career high with 112 yards rushing. But Mattison had just 10 carries for 20 yards against the Browns
Foreman said he doesn’t know enough about the injury to address what the risk was of Cook reinjuring his ankle against the Browns. But he agreed with what Cook said about his ankle being a key to his explosiveness.
“When you cut like he does, your game is affected differently than a guy who’s just a straight-ahead runner,” Foreman said. “He’s got great escapability. He’s quick, he’s fast, and he’s got all those things going for him. But if there’s anything that can limit him, he’s not going to be the same.”
In his five seasons, Cook has missed 22 of 68 regular-season games. In the 46 games he has played, he has averaged 84.5 yards rushing and 29.2 yards receiving.
“He’s the best in the game, in my opinion,” Foreman said of Cook when he is healthy.