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Vikings' Dalvin Cook highly unlikely to play vs. Packers

The Minnesota Vikings likely won't have Dalvin Cook on Monday night against the Green Bay Packers with the NFC North title on the line.

Cook is dealing with a shoulder injury, and NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports that it's highly unlikely the running back plays Monday night. The Vikings, however, are optimistic Cook will be ready for the playoffs, if they make it -- Minnesota needs one win in the final two weeks or one Los Angeles Rams loss to clinch a playoff spot.

"He is expected to play for the Vikings in the playoffs," Rapoport said Thursday on NFL Network's NFL NOW. "That is the good news, assuming they make the playoffs and it sounds like that's the direction they are headed. ... As far as his status this week, though, from what I understand, it's still very much in doubt. I've been told by one person it is highly unlikely that he plays. It is a different injury than the SC joint injury he's been dealing with. It's something new, it's not major but it is something that would make it very, very hard to play on Monday."

Coach Mike Zimmer played coy earlier in the day, refusing to let on the severity of Cook's injury.

"Yeah, I have an update. He seems to be doing good," Zimmer said Thursday, via the team's official Twitter feed.

The 24-year-old suffered the latest shoulder injury early in the third quarter of Sunday's blowout win over the Chargers. Cook officially was a DNP during Thursday's practice.

Cook, who was injured in the Seattle game in Week 13 and immediately said he'd play, spoke more cautiously this time around, but added that wasn't an indication the shoulder issue was more severe. "No, it's just two different injuries," he said.

"I'm going to go through my normal preparations and if I'm ready to go, I'm ready to go," Cook noted.

With the Vikings needing a win over Green Bay and the Packers to stumble in Week 17 against the hapless Detroit Lions, the NFC North seems a longshot. A wild-card berth, however, is in sight. Ensuring Cook is ready for January football is key for Minnesota.

With Cook looking unlikely to play, and backup Alexander Mattison's status still unclear due to an ankle injury, Mike Boone -- a bowling-ball runner set aflame with the fires of ancient temper -- figures to get the bulk of the carries. Backup Ameer Abdullah should see the passing-down snaps Monday against Green Bay.

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