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Vikings RB Dalvin Cook 'ahead of schedule' in ACL rehab

The Minnesota Vikings were a win away from Super Bowl LII. A prevailing thought was they might have been only a player away as well, which they seemingly addressed this offseason with the addition of quarterback Kirk Cousins.

But there was a player already on the roster that would have given the 13-win Vikings more offensive firepower had he been available. Running back Dalvin Cook will be back on the practice field soon enough, however.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero that Cook is making great progress in his rehab from the torn ACL that cut short a promising rookie season.

"He's done really well," Zimmer said while hosting a football camp in Minnesota for more than 700 kids on Saturday. "He's ahead of schedule. We're excited about where he's at."

Zimmer said Cook will have limited involvement in organized team activities this week. The Vikings plan to be cautious with Cook this summer but the goal remains for him to be full-go by training camp.

The second-year back rushed for 127 yards in his NFL debut last season, breaking Adrian Peterson's franchise record in the process. He was among the league leaders in rushing with 354 yards -- at 4.8 yards a pop -- through four games before injuring his left knee.

When Cook returns, he'll be joined by Cousins, who Zimmer reiterated has made a good first impression and already grown into a team leader.

"I think it started when he had [Stefon] Diggs and [Adam] Thielen go down to Atlanta [in April] and throw the ball. He's been very positive and upbeat the whole time we've been out here. Like a lot of times, leadership, if you do your job really good, you become a leader. And he's done it very well this spring."

Expectations are high for the Vikings after appearing in their first NFC title game in eight years. Zimmer made it a point to say reaching the conference championship last season, a 38-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, was a valuable experience for the simple fact that they hadn't been there before.

Perhaps having Cook and Cousins on board, coupled with one of the league's top defenses, will help the Vikings get over the hump and win their first conference title since 1977. Or their first Super Bowl.

"Even though we didn't play good in the championship game, I think it was good for us to see that atmosphere, because it is different," Zimmer said. "It's not like a normal Sunday when you go out there, or a Monday night game. It's a completely different atmosphere, so for a fairly young team, I think it was good for us to be there, and hopefully we can get back again."

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