Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook’s promising rookie season was painfully short after a simple cut on the turf went wrong during the fourth game of his career, resulting in a torn ACL in his left knee.
The devastating injury didn’t keep him down for long, though. He’s been in good company with the Vikings, whose roster is full of former knee reconstruction patients. They’ve provided Cook with plenty of advice, encouragement and inspiration.
“I feel great,” he said. “This team, man. It’s just fun being around them. These guys, they help me get through it every day.”
The motivators start with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, whose comeback from a dislocation and multiple ligament tears was even more daunting than the ACL-only recovery Cook has begun.
Bridgewater called him daily in the early post-op stage, following the surgery performed on Oct. 9 by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.
“He knows what to say. He knows how to say it,” Cook said. “So it’s great having him in my corner.”
Quarterback Sam Bradford, who’s been sidelined for all but 1½ games this season by residual damage related to ACL tears in 2013 and 2014, has spent many hours in the training room next to Cook over the past several weeks.
“I finally get to see Sam’s personality,” Cook said, smiling at the mention of his quiet-by-nature teammate.
Addressing reporters in the team’s locker room on Thursday, his first public comments since the injury against Detroit on Oct. 1, Cook appeared as upbeat as ever. He displays a low-key, soft-spoken demeanor, but he was all smiles during the interview session despite the circumstance.
“It’s frustrating because we want to be out there competing with our teammates, but you know it’s part of the game,” said Cook, who still leads the Vikings with 354 rushing yards. “It’s what we sign up for, so that’s something I had to realize.”
Last week, he ditched his crutches. This week, he resumed weightlifting. He’s on track to be at full strength for training camp.
“I’m young. I’m going to heal up. I’m going to be back out there with my team as soon as possible,” Cook said.
In the meantime, he has several more steps to take during a process he said “will challenge your manhood.” But he’s not planning to back down from it.
“I just think I’ll just come back better than ever. It’s truly my opinion,” Cook said. “It’s just all about how you attack this thing. I just feel like it was a blessing in disguise. I probably needed a break from the hits I was taking in college, or something like that.”