In college and in his first year in the NFL, Dalvin Cook has occasionally been asked to line up as a wide receiver. Under new Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, it appears Cook will be a regular at the line of scrimmage — and the Vikings’ running back can’t get enough of it.
On Sunday in a 29-29 tie at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers, Cook lined up as an outside receiver three times and on one play gained 24 yards on a slant route,
“It’s fun man,” Cook said, smiling. “Especially when I saw the linebacker run out there with me, I knew Kirk was coming to me. When you have a quarterback that trusts you as much as he trusts me, I love it. They sent that linebacker out there, Kirk knew what was up and I knew what was up, that’s just how it is.”
Through six career games, Cook has 20 receptions for 197 yards, good for 9.9 yards per reception. Five of his nine catches in the first two games have gone for first downs.
”It’s a credit to him to buying into what we’re trying to do with him,” DeFilippo said. “I told him our first week on the job that, just get ready to line up everywhere. I told him that the first day I met him. I had watched him on tape and saw the explosiveness in the first three-and-a-half games and said ‘we need to find as many ways as we can to get this guy the football.’”
Cook’s rushing numbers have been limited thus far, in part because the Vikings have faced off with two teams with outstanding interior defensive lines without starting center Pat Elflein in the lineup. So getting Cook the ball in other ways has been vital to the offense.
“There’s all kinds of different ways if you get creative to get your guys the football, but it’s not always going to work, because obviously at the same time he’s a full-time running back so he’s not going to get as much time outside as Adam Thielen would or Stefon Diggs or Kyle Rudoloph is, but there’s enough you can to do make it pretty good as well.”
DeFilippo pointed out another play in which Cousins did not target Cook, but he was lined up outside with the possibility of getting a WR screen.
”I think you saw us on the first drive of the game run the double wide receiver screen where he was an option there on the screen and they gave us better leverage to Adam [Thielen] so we threw to Adam for a gain of nine, but [Dalvin] was involved on the other side of that play as well.”
The Vikings have a good shot at using Cook in space via the passing game this week. Buffalo gave up six receptions and two touchdowns last week to Chargers running back Melvin Gordon.