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Vikings’ Mike Zimmer calls Dalvin Cook ‘day-to-day’ with shoulder injury

Cook was hurt late in the third quarter of Sunday’s 34-26 loss to the 49ers

Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer on Monday called running back Dalvin Cook “day-to-day” after he suffered a shoulder injury in Sunday’s game at San Francisco.

Asked if Cook could play next Sunday at Detroit, Zimmer said, “I don’t know. It’s day-to-day. That’s what they’re telling me.”

Cook was hurt late in the third quarter of Sunday’s 34-26 loss to the 49ers. He was taken off the field while sitting on a cart.

A source said Sunday that the initial diagnosis on Cook was a dislocated shoulder. NFL Media reported Monday that Cook suffered a torn labrum while dislocating his shoulder. However, asked if Cook has a torn labrum, Zimmer said, “No.” Asked if he suffered a dislocated shoulder, Zimmer said, “I’m not going to say.”

NFL Media had reported that Cook likely would miss games at Detroit and on Dec. 9 against Pittsburgh but that he could possibly return as soon as Dec. 20 at Chicago.

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Cook is fifth in the NFL in rushing with 773 yards. If he can’t play against the Lions, Alexander Mattison would get the start at running back. When Cook missed two games earlier this season due to an ankle injury, Mattison had games of 112 and 113 yards rushing.

“He’s done a nice job when he’s been there, so we anticipate him, if he has to play, going in there and playing well,” Zimmer said.

If Mattison takes over for Cook on Sunday, rookie Kene Nwangwu would move into a backup role. Against the 49ers, Nwangwu, in his fifth NFL game, returned his second kickoff of the season for a touchdown and ran once for seven yards, his first carry of the season. Zimmer is looking to get Nwangwu more involved in the offense but said he still has plenty to learn.

“With most young backs, protection is always the toughest thing,” Zimmer said. “It’s not really running with the ball … It’s protections, it’s understanding your route concepts, where you have to be on certain routes and things like that. He’s still learning some of the run game.”

The Vikings won both games in which Cook was out earlier this season, but the second one was a struggle. They defeated the Lions 19-17 on Oct. 10 at U.S. Bank Stadium on Greg Joseph’s 54-yard field goal on the final play. Detroit, at 0-10-1, remans winless..

“Obviously, if (Cook) does miss a game, obviously he’ll be extremely missed,” said Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. “His play on the field, his leadership ability, things like that. But at the end of the day, we’ll figure that out this week. And then we’ll put our best foot forward as far as trying to move the ball and score points and help this team win.”

Cook had a shoulder injury with the Vikings in 2019. He missed the final two games of that season before returning for Minnesota’s two playoff games.

Overall, Cook has missed 23 of a possible 75 games in his five-year Minnesota career. He sat out 12 in his rookie year of 2017 due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, five in 2018 because of hamstring issues, the two in 2019, two in 2020 because of a groin injury and the death of his father, and the two earlier this season.

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