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Zimmer analyzes rookies Cook, Elflein’s preseason debuts

Photo via Jason Barum,

Two Minnesota Vikings rookies with high expectations got their first chance to put on a purple jersey and face off with another team on Thursday night. Dalvin Cook got nine touches in his debut and Elflein played a large chunk of the game with the second team.

On Saturday, the team was back at Winter Park for practice. Head coach Mike Zimmer said Cook didn’t get a ton of opportunities to show all of his talent, but did demonstrate some competitiveness.

“He didn’t have a lot of open space,” Zimmer said.” He had good runs, he had effective runs. I guess the one pass that he caught on the sideline there and the other screen pass, it kind of showed his ability a little bit more than when he can really hit a crease and go. You didn’t really see that the other night, it just wasn’t there. The first two plays of the game we knocked them off the ball 4-5 yards. He got what was there. The thing I liked about him was, when it got into tight quarters, he lowered his shoulder and tried to fight for the extra couple yards.”

Cook notably missed an opportunity to chip block Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Jerry Hughes, came off the edge and sacked Sam Bradford. Zimmer confirmed that Cook – who has been praised for his improvement in pass blocking this offseason – should have hit Hughes.

“He was supposed to help,” Zimmer said. “It was poor technique by Rashod [Hill] but he was expecting help to the outside. ”

One of camp’s biggest position battles has been between centers Nick Easton and Pat Elflein, a third-round pick out of Ohio State, for the starting job.

“Elflein played very, very well,” Zimmer said. “He had one bad snap, but he played really well. He missed one guy, he took a poor angle.”

Easton received the first-team snaps against the Bills, though he has split first-team reps with Elflein throughout camp. The Vikings’ head coach also said that Easton played well and gave his rundown of several other inexperienced linemen.

“[Danny] Isidora did some good things,” Zimmer said. “[Willie] Beavers, early he played well but it looked like he got tired or something late. Some of these young guys are starting to show up.”

Additional notes

  • Zimmer said starting left tackle Riley Reiff’s health is “getting a little better every day”
  • Andrew Sendejo missed practice, Jayron Kearse took his place
  • Trae Waynes and CJ Ham were also not practicing
  • Laquon Treadwell was back in with the first team after missing more than a week
  • Xavier Rhodes was down briefly after a collision with Anthony Harris, but walked off and didn’t need further assistance

  • brian199511

    Beavers sucks. If he makes the team the Vikings are doomed, same with Clemmings. These guys couldn’t block if their lives depended on it and Zimmer best get his defensive head out of his fanny and get it fixed.

    • linus

      I trust Zimmer’s analysis more than yours.

      • brian199511

        Zimmer’s analysis has to include the fact they didn’t find better players than two of the worst OLs in the NFL this off season.

  • Topgunn

    brian, Clemmings is attempting a position change. I must admit, he looked better there than at tackle (but I agree, he was terrible as a tackle). I agree, concerns still exist for the O-Line. I’d like to see better run defense from the first team defense.

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