Dalvin Cook amassed 1,557 yards rushing and 17 total touchdowns in 2020, finishing second in the NFL in rushing. The workload of the Minnesota Vikings running back was frequently a topic of discussion.
Cook rushed the ball 312 times and added 44 catches in 14 games, matching his career-high games played. The 25-year-old isn't worried about the 356 touches weighing on him entering 2021.
"Like I said in the past [about] the touches and everything, once I'm feeling it, it's like the touches don't really matter," Cook said, via Courtney Cronin of ESPN. "Coming out of that type of year, you build your body up extra hard, you hit the weight room a little harder, and you just do things a little harder. I think the injuries or whatever, that comes with the game. I'm going to turn it loose, and I'm going to have fun with it.
"Next year is going to be an opportunity for me to explode again, and I'm going to take full advantage of the opportunity by working my tail off this offseason so I can be ready for 16, 17 games -- however many games I've gotta go. I'm going to be ready to go, and it should be a fun year for the Vikings."
The history of running backs a year after taking 300-plus carries isn't pretty. The grinding workload overwhelmingly leads to diminishing returns the following season. Whether Cook can follow Derrick Henry's lead and improve despite a hefty workload will be a big question entering 2021 for Minnesota.
A new offensive coordinator will take over for the retired Gary Kubiak, but with Mike Zimmer still in charge in Minnesota, we don't expect the offense to change substantially. The Vikes, however, would like to lighten Cook's workload at least a bit this season.
"I think it's important that we monitor Dalvin's workload as we go forward," Zimmer said earlier this month. "But like I said before, at the end of the ballgame, we need our best players in the game. Dalvin is not only one of our best players, but one of the best players in the NFL."
It's hard to take a player with Cook's talent off the field. Unless there is an unanticipated dramatic change in Minnesota in the coming months, we should expect the back to be one of the few workhorses in the NFL again in 2021.