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Packers vs. Vikings Q&A: Understanding Dalvin Cook’s sophomore slump

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Ted Glover of SB Nation’s Minnesota Vikings blog Daily Norseman answers our questions about Dalvin Cook’s sophomore slump.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers can either pump new life into their season or effectively end it when they take on the Minnesota Vikings. The two teams faced off in Week 2, a game which resulted in an overtime tie and set up this week’s do-or-die contest.

With the rematch holding such importance to both teams, we have expanded our weekly Q&A exchange to dive into Sunday’s game in greater detail. Ted Glover of the Daily Norseman kindly answers our questions and provided insight into the Vikings’ strengths and weaknesses.

APC: Dalvin Cook seemed poised to have a breakout season following his recovery from last year’s ACL tear. However, he missed essentially half the season thus far with hamstring issues and, outside of a nice showing against a porous Lions defense, hasn’t surpassed 40 yards on the ground in a game. Why hasn’t Cook taken over in 2018, and how do you project the rest of his year unfolding?

It’s mostly come down to a Cook hamstring injury, a sub-par offensive line (again) and a too early abandonment of the running game. I honestly believe Cook wasn’t quite at 100% when he tweaked his hamstring. He missed a few games, and Detroit was his first game back.

In the off-season GM Rick Spielman addressed that o-line by signing Tom Compton in free agency and drafting RT Brian O’Neill in the second round. O’Neill looks like the real deal, took over the starting job a few weeks back, and I think he’s a long term fixture. But save for C Pat Elflein everyone else seems expendable. LT Riley Reiff has been hurt and hasn’t looked as good as he did last year, Compton has been streaky, Elflein was still recovering from two off-season surgeries and missed the first part of the season, and the Vikings took their best lineman last year, RT Mike Remmers, moved him inside to RG, and he’s been very underwhelming. Add in a training camp injury that ended LG Nick Easton’s season before it began, and it all adds up to a mix and match o-line for the good part of the season, and no matter who’s in there, they’re all sub-par run blockers.

When the Vikings run early, it usually gets shut down, and unless they have an early lead they quit running the ball. Moving forward, I expect much the same for the rest of the year. Against bad run defenses like Detroit, Cook will have decent to good games, and against good run defenses he’ll get shut down.

We’d like to thank Ted for providing insight into the Packers’ upcoming opponent. Acme Packing Company will publish the rest of the Q&A exchange over the course of the week. Make sure to also check out all the Daily Norseman’s Vikings coverage leading up to Sunday’s tilt.