To whatever extent the Vikings try to give Dalvin Cook a break on Sunday, they'll have to do it without his primary backup.
The Vikings ruled running back Alexander Mattison out for Sunday's game after the second-year back underwent surgery for appendicitis on Saturday, according to a league source. Mattison is said to be doing well after the operation, but he'll be out for Sunday, meaning the Vikings have to use Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah on the occasions they want to spell Cook.
Cook is the only running back in the NFL to have three games this season where he's touched the ball at least 30 times, and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said on KFAN this week that Cook has been "beat up" the past few weeks. "It's at that point of the season, so we've got to get him freshened up this week and get him back to being himself," Kubiak said Tuesday.
Cook had 18 carries for 61 yards in the Vikings' win over the Panthers, his lowest rushing output since Week 1, and left for part of the game after sustaining an ankle injury on his third-quarter fumble. Cook said this week he was ready to go, and bristled at a reporter's question about his workload, saying, "I don't think that's a question you'd ask [NFL rushing leader] Derrick Henry or anybody else."
Mattison, who logged 100 carries last season, had seen his workload dwindle in recent weeks after he started in place of the injured Cook in an Oct. 18 loss to the Falcons. Since then, he's carried just 20 times for 93 yards in five games. If he's forced to miss a day of COVID-19 testing because of the surgery, Mattison would have to re-enter the protocol, meaning the Vikings could obtain a roster exemption for the running back as they had to do with cornerback Holton Hill last month.
Mattison wrote on Twitter: "Surgery went well. Thank you everyone for showing me love."
The Vikings also activated tight end Brandon Dillon — who played nine snaps last week with Irv Smith out — and defensive end Eddie Yarbrough from their practice squad for tomorrow's game.