EAGAN, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook and defensive end Everson Griffen have officially been ruled out for Sunday's home game against the Buffalo Bills, coach Mike Zimmer announced Friday.
Cook, who sustained a hamstring injury during overtime of Minnesota's 29-29 tie in Green Bay, did not practice this week. Latavius Murray, who rushed for 42 yards on 11 carries against the Packers last week, is expected to start in place of Cook.
Behind Murray, the Vikings will turn to either Mike Boone or Roc Thomas -- two undrafted free agents who were inactive during the first two games. Boone, who was a full participant in practice Friday, was added to the injury report with a groin injury and is listed as questionable.
While Cook rehabbed throughout the spring offseason, Boone split reps with Murray. Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo tapped into Boone's background as a receiver by utilizing him in the slot and lined up outside throughout the preseason where he caught 10 passes for 88 yards.
Minnesota is averaging 92 yards per game from its running backs and has yet to score a rushing touchdown. A promising sign this week? Buffalo's defense has given up 138 yards and two rushing touchdowns to backup running backs in its first two losses.
The Vikings also ruled Pro Bowl defensive end Everson Griffen (knee), tight end David Morgan (knee) and cornerback Marcus Sherels (ribs) out for Week 3. Griffen was not present at practice throughout the week, although Zimmer said "I don't think so" when asked if there was any concern.
Third-year pass-rusher Stephen Weatherly is eyeing his first career start Sunday, which may come on the left side with the expected move of Danielle Hunter over to right defensive end to fill in for Griffen. Weatherly noted the two DEs are able to make the decision to switch sides while on the field depending upon what they're expecting the offense to do.
"Whenever I'm out there with D, whatever side he feels like he needs to be on to best execute, or if he feels like he's in a groove at one particular tackle during the game, he'll just say he's going to that side, and I'll just play the opposite side," Weatherly said.
After spending the entire preseason on the PUP list while rehabbing from ankle and shoulder surgery, second-year center Pat Elflein will play Sunday.
Coach Mike Zimmer noted that while Elflein will not start, there is a plan for him to see the field in Week 3. Elflein has been taking reps solely at center during his first week as a full participant in practice.
Elflein said he, Kirk Cousins and center Brett Jones have been working together on their calls and communication. Although he just started being able to take snaps from his quarterback, Elflein believes the work he's put in with Cousins in offensive meetings should carry over to the game.
"We're all in the same meetings together, so one big part that I focus on when I can't physically be out there is mentally being engaged and being a part of everything and being a student of the game," Elflein said. "Instead of putting all my focus on that and the physical part, I just turned everything to my rehab and the mental part of the game. We all communicate well. We're all on the same page, so it's been good with Kirk."
Elflein's return was expected much sooner given that Zimmer said "it shouldn't be too long" for his center to be back in practice at the end of July. The Ohio State product said he did not suffer a setback while rehabbing.
"This is just how it worked out," Elflein said. "And I'm feeling good right now."