EAGAN, Minn. — Not many NFL teams can boast about how healthy they are come playoff time, so the situation in which the Minnesota Vikings find themselves — with all of their offensive starters in line to play the Saints in New Orleans on wild-card weekend — is a luxury.
Running back Dalvin Cook, who took a hit to his left shoulder/chest area that sidelined him for the final two games of the regular season, said he’ll be at full strength for Sunday’s game.
“I wouldn’t put a percentage on it,” Cook said. “If I were whatever percent, I’d be out there on Sunday. So I’m gonna be ready to go, I’m gonna be at full strength, and I’m looking forward to a good football game.”
For Cook, the time away the past two weeks allowed him to heal his injury enough that it won’t inhibit him on the field.
“I definitely feel refreshed,” Cook said.
It has been more than two months since the Vikings’ offense was at full strength. The last time Minnesota could tap into its wealth of skill players was Week 6 in a win over Philadelphia. The following week, wide receiver Adam Thielen went down with a hamstring injury in the first quarter at Detroit, and it took him until Week 15 to fully recover.
But as the Vikings got one player back, they lost another. Cook went down against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15. He was a full participant at practice on Wednesday for the first time since the week leading into the Chargers game. Backup running back Alexander Mattison, who suffered a high right ankle sprain in Week 14, was also back on the practice field for the first time since early December.
With the NFC North in play against Green Bay and Cook and Mattison ruled out, the Vikings rushed for 57 yards as a team in a 23-10 loss. Having both players back entering a must-win situation might be exactly what this offense needs to get back on track amid a two-game losing skid.
“It’s never a good feeling when you don’t have a complete team or don’t have all your guys out there,” Mattison said. “Even if it’s one guy or two guys or a handful of guys, that can make a big difference. Hopefully us being back is big.”
Added Cook: “We’ve got two different things going on, but I’ve been encouraging him [Mattison], and he’s been encouraging me. Being in the training room a lot, it can kind of take a toll on your mind and mess with your mental a little bit. I know Alex is a young guy, so I kind of push him through it and make sure he’s here every day. Alex has been doing a great job of getting on top of his rehab.”
Cook has reiterated that he’ll “be ready to go” throughout the week and said his status for the postseason has never been in doubt.
“There ain’t nothing that’s going to hold me out,” Cook said. “Just get healthy, get strong and get back on the field.”
Minnesota linebacker Eric Kendricks, who is dealing with an injury to his quad, did not practice Wednesday, nor did cornerback Mackensie Alexander (knee), safety Andrew Sendejo (illness) and defensive end Stephen Weatherly (illness).
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