Running back Dalvin Cook and nose tackle Michael Pierce were two of the four Vikings players listed as questionable heading into this game. Unlike linebacker Anthony Barr, who was listed as questionable but didn't play, Cook and Pierce were active and out there for a game the Vikings desperately wanted to win.
However, neither one emerged from the 14-7 loss to the Browns at full health.
Cook was clearly limited by the ankle injury he's been dealing with for the past couple weeks. He handled just 11 touches in the game and was held to 44 total yards. Alexander Mattison, who started last week with Cook out, had ten touches for 20 yards, while Ameer Abdullah and C.J. Ham each got the ball once.
Seven of Cook's touches came early in the game. Outside of an 11-yard carry, he wasn't able to get going at all against the Browns' tough front seven. Cook didn't quite look like his usual explosive self, which is understandable given that his ankle isn't at 100 percent. He had one touch early in the third quarter and then wasn't seen again until under the four-minute mark in the fourth, when the Vikings were running out of time to tie the game.
We'll see how Cook feels this week and if he's able to get closer to 100 percent for next Sunday's game against the Lions. He didn't speak after the game, so we don't know if he aggravated the injury at all, but the fact that he was out there late in the game is a good sign for his Week 5 availability.
Pierce picked up an injury to his elbow in practice this week but was able to play. He looked good early on, but aggravated the injury and was listed as doubtful to return. Pierce didn't end up playing at all in the second half.
He'll get an MRI to determine the severity of the injury, Mike Zimmer said postgame. It would be a big blow if the Vikings were to be without their star nose tackle for any amount of time.
Update: Pierce could be out 'a while' with the elbow injury, per the Star Tribune.
Also, cornerback Bashaud Breeland left the game with an illness and was replaced by Cameron Dantzler. Whether or not Breeland will keep his starting job going forward remains to be seen. Dantzler and Harrison Hand have gone on the Reserve/COVID-19 list this week.
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