EAGAN, Minn. — Two weeks ago, Dalvin Cook stood on the field at U.S. Bank Stadium and got some words of advice from Adrian Peterson. Now, Cook has a chance to join Peterson in the Vikings’ record book.
Cook leads the NFL in rushing with 894 yards. If he can gain 106 in Sunday night’s game against the Cowboys in Dallas, he would join Peterson as the only Minnesota running back to rush for 1,000 in the first 10 games of a season. Peterson did it four times playing for the Vikings from 2007-16.
“Any time you can be mentioned with a guy like that is awesome,” Cook said Wednesday. “Just to be mentioned with that guy in any conversation is always tremendous.”
After Minnesota’s 19-9 victory over the Washington Redskins on Oct. 24, Cook met Peterson on the field. Peterson, in his second season with the Redskins, embraced Cook and told him to “just keep it going.”
Peterson set a Vikings record by reaching 1,000 yards in the first eight games in his rookie season, in 2007. He got to 1,000 in the ninth game in 2008 and in the 10th game in both 2012 and 2015.
“Back in my time, a 1,000-yard season was a big thing, and now we’re talking about (Cook going for) 1,000 in 10 games,” said Chuck Foreman, the Vikings’ star running back from 1973-79. “That would be a heck of an accomplishment.”
Foreman gained 1,000 yards three straight seasons, from 1975-77. The quickest he did it was in the 12th game of a 14-game season in 1976.
Cook, 24, is seeking to become the eighth different running back to produce a 1,000-yard season for the Vikings and first since Peterson in 2015. The previous seven did it a total of 19 times.
“It just shows you the work and the time and everything that has been put into this thing,” Cook said of potentially reaching 1,000. “Just keep chipping away and working hard, and things are there to be accomplished.”
Adding to Sunday’s night’s nationally televised game is Cook’s duel with Cowboys star Ezekial Elliott, the NFL’s leading rusher in 2016 and last season. Elliott is sixth in the NFL this season with 741 yards, but has played in only eight games because of a Dallas bye to Cook’s nine.
“Good back, man,” Cook said of Elliott. “I’m trying to go outrush him, and I know he’s trying to do the same.”
Elliott, in his fourth NFL season, was a contract holdout earlier this year before signing a six-year, $90 million deal, making him the highest-paid running back in NFL history. Cook was glad to see Elliott get that kind of money.
“Running backs are valuable,” said Cook, a third-year pro who missed 17 games because of injuries in his first two seasons. “We take a lot of beating in pass (protection). Everybody wants us when we got the ball. …. (It’s good) for guys to get rewarded. …. The running back value kind of went down, but I think we’re just as valuable as any position.”
Cook, who has one year left on his rookie contract, is certainly a candidate to sign a lucrative extension next year. He downplayed looking at Elliott’s deal and how it could impact his situation.
“I want to learn as much as I can,” Cook said. “I want to be the best player, the best back, the best teammate I can be for the Vikings. If you’re chasing anything else but the game, you’ll fall short of that.”
Elliott reached 1,000 yards in the ninth game when he led the NFL in rushing in 2016 with 1,631 yards. He didn’t get there until the 11th game last season, when he led the league with 1,434 yards.
Now, it will be seen if Cook can reach 1,000 in 10 games.
“That would be huge,” Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs said. “I kind of spoke (to the media) the past couple of years about how special he is and about how special he was going to be. This would be a small milestone for what he can do, and I look forward to it. I’ll be out there blocking for him.”