When Dalvin Cook stayed down for a couple minutes after fumbling against the Seahawks, things looked bleak. Favoring his right shoulder/chest area as he was led straight to the locker room, Cook's 2019 season was suddenly a question mark.
Luckily for Cook and the Vikings, the injury isn't as bad as it initially seemed. Cook quickly returned to the sideline, and while he never re-entered the game, he said that was simply for precautionary reasons. He told reporters after the game that he would "definitely" be good to go for Sunday's game against the Lions. On Wednesday, he doubled down on that confidence.
"I'll be out there on Sunday," Cook said. "I feel good. Actually better than I expected. I'll be out there on Sunday ready to get the W."
It's unclear what the official diagnosis of Cook's injury is. It was first believed to be a shoulder injury, but reports have described it as his right clavicle that's hurt. On the Vikings' official injury reports, it's just listed as a "chest" injury. It's somewhere in that area, and it isn't brand new. Cook initially hurt the area against the Broncos before the bye week. He then was banged up after a tackle on screen pass in Seattle, not long before the run that knocked him out of the game.
What it boils down to is pain tolerance. It's going to hurt if he gets hit in a certain way, but playing on Sunday wouldn't be risking aggravating the injury like it would if it were a hamstring, for example.
"I don't think this thing can get any worse," Cook said. "I just think us being smart about it on Monday night was the best thing for what we have going forward. That was the best thing, to shut it down on Monday night, so I can be ready to roll on Sunday."
"I don't feel like it's going to hold me back from playing in any game. Just lay off the contact during the week and get ready for Sunday. That's just going to be my plan to prepare for these next couple of games."
Regardless of how much it may hurt, Cook has no plans to shut himself down for a couple games to let the area heal.
"I love playing football," he said. "That's why I wanted to go back out there Monday night because I knew I could've helped my team close that game out. Nah. [Missing time is] not part of my plan. It was never part of my plan. I love being on the field. It's fun being out there. I've missed enough time."
Painful injuries can be difficult to play through and still remain the same type of player. When dealing with such an injury, it would be natural to perhaps shy away from some contact. For someone like Cook, whose physicality is a big part of his game, losing that element could make him less effective.
But Cook has experience battling through injuries. He has torn his ACL, dealt with hamstring injuries, and much more throughout not just his NFL career, but a lifetime of playing football. With this injury not being something that could get worse, Cook doesn't plan on changing his game at all.
"Just don't think about it," Cook said of his approach. "I done played through a lot of pain. I done played through broken ribs. I done played through stuff. It's just the area that it's in is just so different for me. I do a lot of blocking and the position is physical. Just getting used to it and learning to adapt on the fly."
The one potential issue the injury could pose is in ball security. Cook fumbled on the play that took him out, and the area of the injury is an important one for holding onto the football. Cook said that's where his focus is this week.
Expressing a little more caution was Cook's coach, Mike Zimmer.
"We’ll see how it goes during the week, and then make a decision towards the end of the week," Zimmer said. "We’re not going to play a guy that’s hurt."
Cook was listed as limited in Wednesday's practice, but the Vikings didn't really practice. They just had a short walk-through, so the injury report was an estimation. If Cook misses this week's game or is limited, that would mean an expanded role for rookie Alexander Mattison, who finished the game on Monday night.
We'll know more based on Cook's participation level at practice on Thursday and Friday.