MINNEAPOLIS - Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews saw plenty of Adrian Peterson in previous seasons. Now, he has high praise for another Vikings running back.
Dalvin Cook will face the Packers for the first time Sunday at Lambeau Field. Cook was a rookie last season, but tore his left ACL in Week 4 and didn't play against Green Bay.
"We think he's going to be a premier back in this league,'' Matthews, a 10-year veteran, said Wednesday, Sept. 12. "He's big, strong physical. ... He runs behind his pads. He's definitely somebody we feel as if will be largely involved in the game plan.''
Cook caught six passes for 55 yards in last Sunday's 24-16 win over San Francisco in the opener, but his running stats weren't of the premier-back variety. He carried 16 times for 40 yards for an average of just 2.5 yards per carry.
"There's a lot of things that I got to do better this week to take that jump, so I'm going back to the drawing board,'' Cook said. "I got to clean up a lot of things that I did in the past week, and I'm looking forward to doing that.''
Cook believes he will be better running the ball after having a regular-season game under his belt. Prior to last Sunday, the only game action he had seen since his injury was two carries for one yard in an Aug. 24 exhibition against Seattle.
"Now that (the opener is) out of the way, we can play some football now,'' Cook said. "Like I've said, it's a lot like that first hit. You got that first game out of the way and you know, 'I'm back. I'm back out here ready to go.'''
Cook said he "wasn't that sore'' the day after the 49ers game. He no longer considers his knee any sort of issue.
"The knee thing is over with,'' Cook said. "It's football now. I'm trying to focus in on that. Got a game plan this week, and that's Green Bay. The knee thing is out of the way, and everything that I focus on each week is the team that we got at hand.''
Vikings backup running back Latavius Murray also is expecting Cook to be more comfortable in his second regular-season game. Murray has experience in returning from injuries, including last season, when he was slowed at the start following ankle surgery.
"I think every time he steps on the field, he's looking to get better, looking to improve,'' Murray said. "It's been almost a year since he's gotten real live action and so for him, he's definitely going to continue to improve the more he's out there.''
Before going down in the third quarter of an Oct. 1, 2017, game against Detroit, Cook had carried 74 times on the season for 354 yards for a 4.8-yard average.
What's already looking better for Cook since then, though, is his pass catching. Cook last season had 11 receptions for 90 yards.
"That's what today is coming to,'' Cook said. "If the quarterback doesn't see what he needs to see, he's looking for the running back. You got to be able to catch those balls to be in the game. If you can't catch those balls in the game, you're not going to be out there.''
Cook's pass catching is allowing him to be a three-down back, something Peterson often wasn't. Peterson, though, had plenty of impressive rushing games at Green Bay.
Now, Cook is excited about playing there for the first time.
"I heard it's going to be a great environment,'' he said. "The fans are going to make it fun. ... I'm looking forward to going to Lambeau Field and making plays.''