While Dalvin Cook is ahead of schedule and is slated to be the centerpiece of the Minnesota Vikings’ offense, head coach Mike Zimmer appears to be happy with last year’s No. 1 runner Latavius Murray.
“Latavius had a great spring,” Zimmer said Tuesday. “He looks way better than he did at this time [last season]. Obviously at the beginning of training camp last year when he was hurt, but he was out there today and I said, ‘you’re running the ball really good.’ He’s seeing things well, he’s making good cuts, and I think there will be good competition.”
Murray got off to a slow start in Minnesota following ankle surgery at the end of the 2016 season. After seeing only a handful of carries behind Cook over the first four weeks, Murray emerged as the top back after Cook suffered a torn ACL. He finished the season with 842 yards on 216 carries and eight touchdowns.
Cook is ahead of schedule in his rehab. The team expected him to be a limited participant during OTAs and minicamp, but he was taking reps during the final week of OTAs and splitting them with Murray on the first team on Tuesday.
“He’s attacked his rehab really, really hard,” Zimmer said of Cook. “Even when you joke around with him, I’ve heard him say he’s the same guy that he was. I say, ‘Well, that’s cause you’re young, if it was me it’d be a lot harder’. He’s got a great attitude about it. I think he feels like he still has something to prove, he’s got a little bit of a chip on his shoulder in the way that he’s attacking this rehab.”
Over the first four weeks of his rookie year, Cook rushed for 354 yards on 78 carries and played between 48 percent and 79 percent of total snaps.
It is unclear who will replace Jerick McKinnon as the No. 3 back. Former Washington runner Mack Brown, fullback CJ Ham and undrafted rookies Mike Boone and Roc Thomas will compete for roster spots.