Cook says his role in the Jets' talented backfield is simple: 'Just be Dalvin'

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New York Jets running back Dalvin Cook speaks to reporters at the team's facility in Florham Park, N.J., on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. The former Minnesota Vikings star signed a one-year contract with the Jets on Aug. 16. (AP Photo/Dennis Waszak Jr.)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Dalvin Cook joined the Jets knowing they already were stacked at running back.

The former Minnesota Vikings star intends to make New York's backfield even better — no matter what his role might be.

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“Just be Dalvin,” Cook said Thursday, a day after signing a one-year deal with the Jets. “Just be me. My number gets called, go be explosive.”

That's exactly what New York expects from Cook, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who was released by the Vikings on June 8 for salary cap savings.

The 28-year-old running back joins a backfield that includes Breece Hall, who was a frontrunner for AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors until he tore a knee ligament in Week 7 last season. The versatile and shifty Michael Carter, the powerful Zonovan Knight, fifth-round draft pick Israel Abanikanda and undrafted free agent Travis Dye are also on the roster.

“I’m the older guy in the room,” Cook said. "Just share the knowledge. I’ve got a lot of experience in this game. Every little thing I can drop on those guys, that I can help them to be successful in this league, I’m going to give it to them. Just be me and help those guys grow, that’s it.”

Cook will likely be playing for another contract next offseason after agreeing with the Jets on a deal worth up to $8.6 million, including incentives. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett will have to figure out how to split those carries and try to help quarterback Aaron Rodgers move the ball consistently and put up points.

“I think it’s just another man that, he’s done so much in his career," said Hackett, who saw plenty of Cook when he was an assistant in Green Bay. "Going against him for those three years, those six times watching him win a lot of games and beat us — glad, he’s on our team now.”

Cook, who’s third on Minnesota’s career rushing list with 5,993 yards after six seasons with the Vikings, visited with the Jets last month and watched a training camp practice. He left without a deal and was weighing his options, but had seen enough to know where he wanted to go.

Especially given the opportunity to play with Rodgers.

“Being on the other side of that the last six years, I couldn't be on the other side no more,” a smiling Cook said. “I got the chance to go join him and help him win — that was a big thing to come over here.”

Cook, who had shoulder surgery in February, spent Thursday in the trainers area at the start of practice and then watched from the sideline where he chatted with his teammates. He said he's “right on schedule” with his shoulder and should begin practicing “within the next few days.”

He'll head home for the birth of his baby Saturday, when the Jets play Tampa Bay in their third preseason game. Cook will then rejoin his new teammates and get to work after staying in shape during the offseason.

“I’ve been working out, I’ve been grinding,” Cook said. “I've been sticking to my script."

Cook’s legal situation remains a bit uncertain as he's facing a pending domestic violence lawsuit by an ex-girlfriend. He has no concerns, though, he could face a suspension from the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

“None,” Cook said. “None whatsoever.”

Coach Robert Saleh said Wednesday the team thoroughly looked into the situation and felt comfortable with bringing in Cook.

On the field, Cook wants to win a Super Bowl after some playoff disappointments in Minnesota and believes he can help Rodgers and the Jets deliver another to their frustrated fan base.

“Me being in Year Seven, I kind of know that getting to playoff games and losing, getting to championship games and losing, you've kind of got that small window of kind of figuring things out and winning,” Cook said. "And I won't say I could be a missing piece, but I know I can come help a team win.

“I know what I could do on the football field. I know what I could bring to the team. So that’s what I’m here to do. I’m just here to be Dalvin Cook and be explosive and be a great teammate.”

NOTES: Tony Oden, the Jets' cornerbacks coach and senior defensive assistant, was back on the field coaching but with his left arm in a sling after he was injured during one of the several skirmishes Wednesday between players at New York's joint practice with Tampa Bay. Oden, who was carted off the field and taken to a hospital for evaluation, wouldn't disclose the nature of his injury. “Got a little war wound,” he joked. “I’ll be all right.” ... Hall participated in team drills for the first time since being activated from the physically unable to perform list Tuesday. ... The Jets signed CB Nehemiah Shelton and released RB Damarea Crockett.

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