MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — Chris Cook’s promising start to his rookie season with the Minnesota Vikings was derailed by knee problems — namely the same injury to each one.
He started his first training camp strong, using his 6-foot-2 frame and exceptional leaping ability to make a series of standout plays during practices. The second-round draft pick from Virginia was in line to be the third, or nickel, cornerback, and he appeared on his way toward a productive first year.
But then came the humbling moment — and the painful sequel.
Cook first suffered a torn meniscus on his left knee during a preseason game Aug. 28 against Seattle, and after working his way back he tore the same cartilage on his right knee in a regular season game Sept. 26 against Detroit. He came back from that but never made it to full strength, and the Vikings finally placed him on injured reserve in December. He played in only six games last year, recording 21 tackles and two pass breakups.
“It was tough,” Cook said. “Those injuries kill your confidence. But missing those games really makes you want to come back.”
Cook, listed at 212 pounds last year, said he’s lost about 10 pounds. Fully recovered from surgery, he’s trying to work his way back in the lineup. He’s been practicing with the second team, though during full-team drills, he’s been the extra cornerback in the nickel defense.
“He came back with a great attitude,” head coach Leslie Frazier said. “It’s unfortunate what happened to him last year with the injuries, but its a new year. Hopefully, he can avoid the injury bug. We know he’s got the talent.”
He added: “What he’s doing in practice, it really gives you some hope that he’s on course.”
Cook, the tallest of the Vikings’ cornerbacks, had a struggle during the offseason, too. He was arrested in early March, accused of pulling a gun on his mother’s neighbor in Virginia. He said he had gotten into a heated verbal exchange but that he didn’t pull out a gun. Cook was acquitted in May.
“It was just, `He said, she said,”‘ Cook said. “I never did what the guy said I did. I talked to coach Frazier, and he was like, `I know what type of guy you are, and I know you wouldn’t do something like that in front of your mom’s house.’ He was never really mad at me. He just told me I have to be smarter about the situations I put myself in.”
Cook said he’s regained full strength in both knees, and he’s made some eye-catching plays during camp so far, reminiscent of his rookie year.
“I feel good,” Cook said. “I’ve had another year in the system, and I know the language. I can just do my job.”
NOTES: After only one apparent injury during the first week of camp, a foot problem for backup LB and special teams contributor Kenny Onatolu, the Vikings have seen their list of training room visitors grow. TE Visanthe Shiancoe left Monday’s practice after hurting his hamstring. WR Percy Harvin sat out of a portion of the workout with sore ribs. G Steve Hutchinson missed some plays because of a sore shoulder. S Tyrell Johnson also sat out, the result of a hamstring injury suffered Saturday. Backup S Simeon Castille had an undisclosed injury and did light running on an adjacent practice field. Backup DE Adrian Awason was sick and did not practice. Frazier said he expects Shiancoe and Harvin back “in a short time” but acknowledged the importance of being careful about a hamstring injury like Shiancoe’s. … Frazier said CB Cedric Griffin, recovering from an ACL tear in his knee for a second straight year, one on each knee, won’t play in the first preseason game Saturday at Tennessee. Frazier stopped short of declaring Cook the starter for the game, however, saying he still wants to evaluate Asher Allen and others.
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