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The Minnesota Vikings have experienced a resurgence in their offense this season, due in large part to running back Dalvin Cook, and the excellent play of the offensive line. Cook has shown that he is every bit the dynamic runner he was in college and looked to be on his way to a league rushing title. However, he has been hampered in recent weeks with a nagging chest/shoulder injury, although says he’ll be ready to go this weekend against Detroit. However, if Cook is unable to play, it may just be the opportunity that rookie Alexander Mattison has been waiting for.

Cook is no stranger to injury, as both of his first two seasons in the league were shortened due to injuries. In his rookie season, Cook was on a hot start when he tore his ACL in the Vikings week four matchup against Detroit. After Cook’s return in his sophomore season, he wasn’t quite the same and missed time due to a nagging hamstring injury, which is typical following an ACL tear.

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This season, Cook has 1046 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns, and a total of 1536 yards from scrimmage. These would be solid numbers for an entire year, but the Vikings have four games left to play, and Cook wants to build his numbers higher. Cook says that he’ll be ready to roll for the Vikings matchup this week against the Detroit Lions. However, if Cook can’t go this weekend, fans will be treated to a heavy dose of the talented rookie Mattison.

When the Vikings took the Boise State running back with the 102nd overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, some were confused. However, it looks as if Rick Spielman made the right choice in getting an insurance policy for their main back. When the Vikings let Latavius Murray go prior to the draft, it seems obvious that they had Mattison in mind as Murray’s replacement. At 220 lbs, Mattison has a Murray-esque bruising running style, but runs a bit less up and down. He also has surprising quickness for a player who didn’t grade especially well in combine workouts. 

Mattison has already gained 416 rushing yards and has a rushing touchdown. Those numbers might not jump off the page, but when you consider that he’s spelling a back that is in the top five in rushing, they become very impressive. He can get it done in the pass game too as he’s shown with his 64 receiving yards on just eight receptions this year.

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Kirby O'Connor is a graduate of Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, where he studied Electronic Publishing and minored in Art. Kirby is a lifelong, die-hard Vikings fan thanks to his father. You can find him on Twitter @kjocon14.