As encouraging as things were for the Vikings in Sunday's 33-27 loss to Green Bay at Mall of America Field, coach Leslie Frazier returned to Winter Park this morning with a whole lot of headaches to deal with. Forget the promise Christian Ponder showed in his first NFL start. Right now, Frazier has to deal with so much more.
Most significantly, one of Frazier's top defensive backs, Chris Cook, remains in custody and is still awaiting a hearing after being arrested in Eden Prairie on Saturday morning on domestic assault charges. Cook was originally expected to appear in court Monday morning. But the investigation of the incident that led to his arrest is ongoing. So predictably, Frazier was vague when speaking about Cook early this afternoon.
"As we get more clarity as to what's going on with Chris, we'll act accordingly," Frazier said. "But we'll try to get clarity hopefully in the next few days and go from there. I don't think any of us in this organization are pleased when one of our players is arrested for anything. And the fact that one of our players is in jail is a disappointment. It's something that we'll have to deal with as we find out more information."
Frazier's assessment of receiver Bernard Berrian was also ambiguous. Berrian was made inactive for Sunday's game with Green Bay, a decision Frazier made at some point over the weekend. And while the head coach won't address specifics as to what transpired, his comments and body language today give off strong indications that Berrian's time in Minneapolis is nearing its end.
"There are some things we need to sit down and talk to Bernard about later today," Frazier said. "And then we'll make a decision on how we want to handle things going forward. But he and I are going to sit down and talk first. There are just some things that he and I need to talk about to make sure that we can get on the same page about what direction we want to go in. So we're going to have a little meeting of the minds and see where we are."
Asked later whether Berrian had become a distraction for the team, Frazier looked down and then looked up and generally evaded the question.
"One of the things you're trying to do when you are where we are is make sure that everybody is focused on who we're playing," he said. "This weekend we're playing Carolina. And everybody's focus has to be on the Carolina Panthers. We’ve just got to make sure that we get everybody focused on what we have to be focused on."
Berrian's focus certainly hasn't seemed sharp in recent weeks. Sunday marked the second time in three weeks he has been a surprise addition to the inactive list. On top of that, he has only seven catches for 91 yards for the entire season. Now? It looks like his strained relationship with Frazier may be reaching the breaking point.
Injury update: More bad news could be on the way for guard Anthony Herrera, who suffered some form of ACL injury Sunday to the same knee in which he tore his ACL last November. Frazier was awaiting more detail on the severity of Herrera's most recent injury.