EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings Head Coach Kevin O’Connell said Monday that running back Dalvin Cook is “day-to-day” but safety Harrison Smith has cleared concussion protocols and cornerback Andrew Booth, Jr., could return to practice this week.
Cook left in the final minute of the third quarter of Sunday’s 28-24 win against Detroit with a shoulder injury and was declared out for the rest of the game. He recorded 96 rushing yards on 17 carries and a touchdown before suffering a shoulder injury and fumbling.
“He’s pretty sore today, but obviously something he’s familiar with. He’s tough, he’s ready to try to get back out there and go, but we’ll take it day-to-day,” O’Connell said to Twin Cities media members. “I’ll keep you guys updated throughout the week on where he’s at.”
Earlier in the third quarter Sunday, Cook eclipsed 5,000 rushing yards for his career. He is currently fifth in rushing yards in Vikings franchise history behind Adrian Peterson (11,747), Robert Smith (6,818), Chuck Foreman (5,887) and Bill Brown (5,757).
Defensively, O’Connell said Smith is on track to be available for the Vikings game in London against the New Orleans Saints this Sunday. Smith was held out of the Lions game after suffering a concussion in Week 2 at Philadelphia.
“Harrison will be, we think, pretty much ready to go,” O’Connell said. “He’s kind of cleared the protocols. We’ll kind of limit his contact early on in the week, but the expectation is that Harry will be able to go in London.”
O’Connell added he hopes to get Booth back at practice this week. Booth was also ruled out of Sunday’s game and has been recovering from a quadriceps injury since Week 1.
Here are two additional takeaways from O’Connell’s availability on Monday:
Bringing balance to play-calling and situational awareness
After the Vikings season-opening victory against the Green Bay Packers, O’Connell said he needed to do a better job of “picking his spots” for when he needs to communicate play calls with players and coordinators vs. being available to call timeouts or challenge a play.
O’Connell said during Sunday’s game against the Lions, those moments improved for him. He added he “always wants to be aggressive” when calling plays, alluding to a fourth-and-6 situation in the second quarter when Cousins completed a 6-yard strike to wide receiver Adam Thielen for a first down. After extending the drive, Cook evened the score at 14 with a 4-yard touchdown run.
“The fourth-and-6 on our second touchdown drive, I thought the third-and-6 play had a chance to score, just didn’t work out and then felt good about another play call, so didn’t really want to hesitate there,” O’Connell said. “Critical time, I thought, in the game for us to go down and get on the board, go score a touchdown and try to get that thing to 14-14.”
O’Connell added he learned that aggressive mentality from his playing days in New England with Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and as an offensive coordinator with the Los Angeles Rams under Head Coach Sean McVay.
“Treating each one as its own and understanding that I’m always going to go with my gut instinct at the time, but with a lot of information from a guy like [Assistant Head Coach] Mike Pettine, [Pass Game Specialist/Game Management Coordinator] Ryan Cordell in real time understanding what we think is best to try to win the football game,” O’Connell said. “I’m feeling more and more comfortable, our line of communication is really solid and then just my dialogue with the officials throughout the game maintaining good dialogue with those guys.”
Finding their fight
The Vikings found themselves trailing by two touchdowns in the first half for the second consecutive game. Minnesota then faced another double-digit deficit later against the Lions, down 10 in the fourth.
Unlike the performance in Philadelphia in Week 2, the Vikings showed fight and heart while battling back to take the lead for the first and only time with less than a minute remaining on Sunday.
O’Connell said Monday to reporters the team learned from its experience on Monday Night Football and the Vikings did a better job of sticking together.
“Obviously some frustration at times of things we could have done better to not put ourselves in those situations, but at the same time, to know that we can stay the course and stay true to what we want to try to be as a football team,” O’Connell said. “But also at the same time, know in those moments when your best is required, we can rely on a lot of players on our team to show up and make plays and win their individual 1-on-1 matchups when teams have plans for some of our players on offense and defense to try to take them away or at least limit their impact on the game.”
O’Connell added: “Some guys can show up and really make some plays in some big moments and was really proud of our team for being able to do that. I do think it helps you moving forward to know that we’ve done it, obviously at home with the support of our home crowd there but at the same time we may have to do it on the road, we may have to do it in tougher environments where things are against us a little more, and we’ll rely on that experience yesterday to hopefully do that.”
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Kevin O'Connell Provides Injury Updates on Dalvin Cook & Harrison Smith – Vikings.com