By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s simple. When the Minnesota Vikings have running back Dalvin Cook, they are a different team.

He changes what they can do in part by changing direction.

“Having a feeling, trusting your instincts,” Cook said. “I practice hard during the week to put myself in position to know that I got to trust the thing and hit it and just go with it. And that’s what I do come Sunday. I don’t think, I just react.”

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But maybe just as important is that he has, in his own way, become a leader on offense. That can come in different ways. For Cook, it’s the unselfishness of his demeanor. He will be happy to touch the ball 30 times, and happier when he’s part of a team win.

Dalvin Cook #33 of the Minnesota Vikings runs with the ball during the first half against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 05, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Dalvin Cook (credit: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

“He just trying to bring everybody home, trying to win,” tackle Rashod Hill said.

So Cook prepares for Saturday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, who are preparing for him, because they understand what he can do to change a football game.

“He’s really good,” 49ers defensive lineman Nick Bosa said. “Not many people could just maintain the speed that he maintains through contact. He just makes cuts and never slows down, and he’s physical.”

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That’s what he relishes. He knows what he has to do this week. It is a competitor’s dream come true to be healthy again, and with a team that is, too.

“We’re in the playoffs. We’re having fun, I’m good, everybody on the team good,” Cook said. “We got a starting lineup that we started with day one going into this thing.”

Mike Max