Vikings' Dalvin Cook to miss season finale against Lions after father's death
The Detroit Lions won't see Dalvin Cook for this weekend's season finale.
The Minnesota Vikings star running back left the team on Tuesday after his father, James, unexpectedly passed away in Florida. He was 46 years old.
Cook was in the midst of the best season of his young career, rushing for 1,557 yards and 16 touchdowns through 14 games. He was just 82 yards shy of 2,000 from scrimmage.
He was recently named to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive season and is still likely to be named a first-team All-Pro at season's end.
In Detroit's earlier matchup with Minnesota this season, Cook dominated, rushing for a career-high 206 yards on 22 carries and scoring twice in the 34-20 victory.
Without Cook, the Vikings will likely turn to the backfield tandem of Alexander Mattison and former Lion Ameer Abdullah. Mattison has carried the ball 75 times this season for 339 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and one touchdown.
The Vikings enter the finale against the Lions ranking sixth in total offense and 13th in scoring. Even without Cook, the Lions will have to contend with a potent passing attack built around wide receivers Adam Thielen and rookie Justin Jefferson. The pair have combined for more than 2,000 yards and 21 receiving touchdowns.
Daniel taking No. 1 reps
Not surprisingly, Matthew Stafford won't be taking part in Wednesday's practice, according to interim coach Darrell Bevell. The starting quarterback is dealing with thumb, rib and ankle injuries, with the latter knocking him out of last Sunday's game against Tampa Bay in the first quarter.
While Stafford remains hopeful to play, Bevell said Chase Daniel will take the majority of the first-team reps to begin the practice week and would start against Minnesota, ahead of David Blough, if Stafford is unable to get medical clearance.
Daniel completed 13 of 18 passes for 86 yards in place of Stafford on Sunday, failing to lead the offense on a single scoring drive before giving way to Blough in the fourth quarter.
Blough, who started the team's final five games as an undrafted rookie a year ago, wasn't much better in his brief opportunity on Sunday, completing 6 of 10 passes for 60 yards and an interception.
In addition to Stafford, the Lions are also expected to be without wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hip), offensive lineman Joe Dahl (back) and linebacker Jamie Collins (neck) during Wednesday's practice.
Center Frank Ragnow, who is working his way back from fractured cartilage in his throat, has resumed talking and will be a limited participant on Wednesday. He has a realistic shot to play against the Vikings after missing the past two games.
"Really, what I’m asking him (Ragnow) to do is I don’t want him to overextend it or anything during the week," Bevell said. "So, the communication will be minimal. I mean he’s talking and all that, but I don’t want him barking out any calls or signals that way just so that we can continue to let it heal as much as it can all the way to Sunday."
Defensive coach still out
Defensive coordinator Cory Undlin and Bevell are out of COVID-19 quarantine and will be back at practice on Wednesday, while defensive line coach Bo Davis remains in protocol, indicating he was the Lions assistant who tested positive for the virus last week.
Bevell, Undlin and Davis, along with defensive backs coach Steve Gregory and linebackers coach Ty McKenzie, all missed Saturday's game after one coach tested positive and the other four were deemed to be close contacts.
Clarity on cutting Kearse
After the Lions cut veteran safety Jayron Kearse earlier this week, Bevell painted the decision as the team wanting to get a closer look at some of the younger players on the roster.
But, according to a Detroit Free Press report, the parting ways had more to do with Kearse violating team rules last week. Asked about the report, Bevell declined direct confirmation.
"I don’t know if I even want to comment on that," Bevell said. "But I will just say that everything matters."