Vikings Snap Counts: Cook handling heavy load at running back

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As the NFL’s second-leading rusher (1,069 yards) and at the top of the charts in total touchdowns (14), Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook has proven himself to be a legitimate MVP candidate.

If he doesn’t take home the annual award, it certainly won’t be due to a lack of reps.

Cook played 52 of Minnesota’s 64 offensive snaps (81%) during the Vikings’ 31-28 loss to Dallas on Sunday. He rushed 27 times for 116 yards (4.3 average) with a score and added five catches for 45 yards. Cook’s 32 touches indicate he was utilized 61.5% of the time he spent on the gridiron.

It doesn’t matter if Minnesota is winning or losing, backup running back Alexander Mattison’s role continues to decrease. The second-year tailback played just five snaps (8%) Sunday and was limited to one carry for six yards against the Cowboys.

In the four games since the Vikings’ bye week, Mattison has played a mere 12.6% of the snaps, averaging 7.8 snaps per contest. Mattison has been on the field for exactly five snaps in three of the last four contests, the only exception being Minnesota’s 34-20 win over Detroit in Week 9 in which he carried the ball 12 times for 69 yards (5.8 average).

It’s a big change from before the bye when Mattison played at least 23% of the snaps in five of the Vikings’ first six contests.

Meanwhile, Cook has handled 78.9% of the snaps and is averaging 30.5 touches per contest since the bye.

The good news for Minnesota is the heavy load for Cook is working. The 25-year-old is averaging 187.5 total yards per contest over the last four games, three of which have resulted in Minnesota victories.

But is it sustainable? For a player who missed 19 games over the first three years of his career, 30.5 touches per contest is asking a lot.

Other notes from Sunday’s snap counts:

— As Mattison’s snaps decrease, fullback C.J. Ham is being used more and more. Ham played greater than 33% of the snaps just twice before the bye. Since Week 8, Ham has been on the field for 51.0% of Minnesota’s offensive plays.

— Rookie cornerback Cameron Dantzler returned to the field for the first time since Week 6, playing 42 of the Vikings’ 66 defensive snaps (64%). He tallied four tackles in the loss.

— First-round pick Jeff Gladney led Minnesota cornerbacks in snaps with 66 (100%), followed by Kris Boyd (74%), Dantzler (64%) and Chris Jones (47%).

— Wide receiver Olabisi Johnson played just four snaps but hauled in one reception for nine yards — his first catch since Week 5.

— Defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa was waived by the Vikings on Oct. 13. After clearing waivers, he was placed on Minnesota’s practice squad. Promoted again to the active roster Nov. 6, Mata’afa has played 40.3% of the defensive snaps over the last four weeks and has tallied seven tackles, two tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and one sack in that span.

 

GAME 10: VS. COWBOYS (OFFENSE)

PLAYER PLAYS (64) %
Reiff 64 100%
Dozier 64 100%
O’Neill 64 100%
Jones 64 100%
Bradbury 64 100%
Cousins 64 100%
Jefferson 59 92%
Thielen 57 89%
Cook 52 81%
Rudolph 45 70%
Ham 35 55%
Smith 33 52%
Beebe 17 27%
Conklin 11 17%
Mattison 5 8%
Johnson 4 6%
Hill 2 3%

GAME 10: VS. COWBOYS (DEFENSE)

PLAYER PLAYS (66) %
Gladney 66 100%
Harris 66 100%
Wilson 66 100%
Smith 66 100%
Kendricks 66 100%
Holmes 50 76%
Johnson 50 76%
Boyd 49 74%
Stephen 49 74%
Odenigbo 44 67%
Dantzler 42 64%
Jones 31 47%
Wonnum 28 42%
Mata’afa 21 32%
Watts 18 27%
Dye 10 15%
Lynch 4 6%

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