The Minnesota Vikings are moving forward without Dalvin Cook — and are looking toward the future with a first-string running back who has yet to rush for 500 yards in an NFL season.
Alexander Mattison does not seem unnerved by the task of replacing Cook — a Pro Bowl running back with four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons under his belt. The former Boise State Bronco just signed a new two-year contract with the Vikings and is emboldened by the franchise’s faith in him.
“For me, it’s a great opportunity to step into the role, the limelight and the position I’ve always dreamt of being in,” Mattison told the Star Tribune on Wednesday.
Mattison ready for hard work to pay off
At first glance, handing the keys to Minnesota‘s backfield to Mattison over a more-experienced runner may not look like the most inspiring decision. After all, Cook has been one of the NFL‘s best backs in recent years, and Mattison rushed for only 283 yards in 2022 — averaging less than four yards a carry.
But Cook carried the ball 264 times in the 2022 regular season, whereas Mattison received only 74 carries — a career-low, demonstrating the Vikings‘ reliance on Cook. Now, with Mattison entering his prime at 25 years old, he’s set for a breakout year as the change of pace behind Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, and the Vikings’ explosive aerial game.
“All the work I’ve put in to this point, all the work following in (Cook’s) footsteps, side by side, challenging each other every day, prepared me for a moment like this where I can have the opportunity to seize what’s in front of me,” Mattison told the Star Tribune.
Youth camps also a priority for Mattison
In addition to preparing himself to replace an elite runner in Cook, Mattison has also been running youth football camps in three different places in the United States.
In addition to a camp in Minnesota, Mattison has concluded a one-day camp in his hometown of San Bernardino, Calif., with plans for another to kick off shortly in Boise.
“The bigger picture wasn’t just to make it to the NFL, but beyond that,” Mattison said about the importance of the overnight camps. “The goals were setting myself up for success and an attainable life beyond what the field can provide.”