Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018


Van Clemens

 

Murray's Restaurant


Answers Coming on Dalvin Cook

 

Dean Dalton, the former Vikings running back coach, was asked about Dalvin Cook’s comeback. The second-year running back has been arduously working his way back into game readiness after a serious left knee injury suffered after playing just four games in 2017.

Dalton said the surgery for a torn ACL is so state-of-the-art, that part isn’t a concern in the recovery process for Cook who could emerge even this season as one of the NFL’s elite rushers. The obstacles for Cook, or any NFL runner who has the surgery, are regaining the physical efficiency of the knee and the confidence to move the same way as in the past and not be fearful of re-injury, and also getting in game shape.

Can Cook be what he was before the injury? “That’s all about Dalvin. I believe he will be fine,” Dalton told Sports Headliners.

Cook didn’t play in the Vikings’ first preseason game last Saturday. Head coach Mike Zimmer said awhile ago he expects Cook to receive some preseason playing time and that his former second round draft choice will be ready for the regular season opener next month.

What about tomorrow’s home preseason opener at U.S. Bank Stadium against the Jaguars? “I don’t know if he’s going to play this Saturday or not,” Zimmer said on Wednesday. “The only thing we’re trying to do is each day we’re trying to stack on a few more plays, (a) few more days in a row. That’s really what we’re…trying to do, is trying to get him in game ready shape.”

Cook said yesterday he can be ready for the regular season opener on September 9 against the 49ers without preseason game action. “Yeah, one hundred percent (sure about that),” he said. “I’m ready to go. Ball is ball, and when that ball rolls out, I’m going to go one hundred percent, I’m going to fly around, and I’m going to do me. …My knee is ready to go, I’m ready to play, and it’s just football now.”

Cook’s return is a key piece to the team’s plan to reach the Super Bowl. Dalton refers to him as a complete back with skills that include being an “excellent receiver.” Catching the ball out of the backfield can certainly be another tool for the offense but it’s Cook’s ability to take a handoff in the backfield and break long plays that has tantalized Vikings coaches and scouts even before he arrived in Minneapolis from Florida State.

Vikings talent evaluator Scott Studwell said this last year about Cook: “He is an exceptional athlete. He can do everything. He catches it extremely well. He’s got great feet, he’s got really good eyes. He plays probably faster than he times . He’s got game speed. He’s got exceptional inside run ability. He’s pretty much the entire package.”

The 5-10, 210-pound Cook is only 23 years old, with potentially a lot of productive seasons ahead. He set a Vikings’ record last year for most rushing yards by a rookie through the first three games, 288 yards.

Worth Noting

Dalton is president of the NFL Alumni Pro Day Experience. The first event nationally was scheduled for this month at Eden Prairie High School but will now be held November 10 and 11. The event is for boys and girls ages 13-18, who will have an experience similar to the NFL Combine, and also participate in a Microsoft technology workshop. More at Nflalumniproday.com.

State football coaching legends Mike Grant from Eden Prairie, Dwight Lundeen of Becker, and Ron Stolski from Brainerd, will be recognized at the November event as “honorary coaches.”

Dalton was a Vikings assistant coach from 1999-2005 and since then has been involved with various career experiences in health and wellness, media and technology.

The Vikings, who play the Jaguars tomorrow at U.S. Bank Stadium, are no longer using hard tickets or printed PDF’s. Tickets are accessible via the Vikings app or the online My Vikings Account portal and can be saved to fans’ mobile devices.

Kirk Cousins

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins turns 30 on Sunday. Wide receiver Adam Thielen will be 28 next Wednesday.

Offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarroccha told the Big Ten Network late yesterday it’s head coach P.J. Fleck’s decision on timing, but the Gophers might announce their starting quarterback over the weekend for the August 30 opener against New Mexico State. Redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan and true freshman Zack Annexstad have never played in a college game but have impressed with their leadership in August training camp.

Ciarroccha said 6-4, 240-pound Seth Green, a quarterback last year who was switched to tight end, is now a wide receiver. Minnesota coaches like the redshirt sophomore’s athleticism and size.

Among verbal commits for the Gophers’ class of 2019 is four-star defensive end Jason Bargy from Momence, Illinois. His pass rushing ability might be superior to anyone on the Gopher roster currently.

Bargy is the only four-star player on the Gopher list of verbal commits, per 247Sports who as of yesterday had Minnesota’s 2019 class ranked No. 26 nationally and No. 7 in the Big Ten.

It will be one of the more emotional nights in Lynx history Sunday when the team and fans celebrate Lindsay Whalen’s career following the regular season ending home game against the Mystics. All fans in attendance will receive a Whalen commemorative card. Whalen’s retirement announcement was well-timed earlier this week, allowing the team and fans to recognize her legendary career in Minnesota basketball.

It will be interesting to see the size of the crowd on Sunday, with Target Center capacity at 18,978. In franchise history the largest regular season crowd is 17,933, a record set on July 7 of this year. The all-time attendance record came at a playoff game in October of 2016, 19,839.

Gustavus Adolphus football coach Peter Haugen speaks to the CORES lunch group September 13 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Bloomington, 1114 American Blvd. Haugen, a Bethel graduate, is starting his 10th year at Gustavus after 15 years as head football coach for Washburn High School where he compiled a 76-8 record in city league games. For lunch reservations and other information, contact Jim Dotseth, dotsethj@comcast.net. CORES is an acronym for coaches, officials, reporters, educators and sports fans.

Gary Smith, the athletic trainer for the fabled 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, is in his 21st season with the Eden Prairie football team. Smith has 51 years of experience as an athletic trainer, including working for the Gophers.

Classy move: Ex-Twin Brian Dozier’s full page advertisement headlined “Thank you, Minnesota” in the August 9 Star Tribune. The second baseman, now with the Dodgers after being traded in July, will be remembered as one of the classiest Twins ever.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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