Bad play mars good game for Cook

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 14, 2012 - 10:50 PM

 

Our snapshot look at the Vikings as they prepare for Sunday's game against the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT

The Vikings' victory over Jacksonville was a huge relief to cornerback Chris Cook, who committed what might have been a game-losing blunder late in regulation.

In a three-deep coverage where Cook's top responsibility was not to let anyone behind him, he instead allowed Jacksonville's Cecil Shorts to slip past and haul in a 39-yard touchdown grab with 20 seconds left. That put the Jaguars ahead 23-20.

"I bit on a pump fake," Cook explained. "The quarterback pumped to the seam, and I went for it. That can't happen."

Cook was saved by the heroics of Christian Ponder and Blair Walsh. And before that high-profile mistake, the third-year corner had himself a solid game.

"Promising" in the words of defensive coordinator Alan Williams.

Cook was credited with five tackles and two passes defended. He also had a key fourth-quarter sack. That, Cook said, was his first sack ever -- on any level.

This week, Cook will be responsible for helping to slow Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, a veteran with a knack for getting open.

"He runs his routes very precise," Cook said. "And all his routes look the same. Whether he's running a short out or a deep ball, he runs everything full speed, and it's clear he knows the game well."

MOST PRESSING QUESTION

Will Antoine Winfield be able to hold it together while still dealing with the death of his brother?

Winfield played last week just four days after learning his younger brother, Anthony Travis, had been shot and killed in Akron, Ohio. On Thursday, Winfield attended Travis' funeral.

"Probably one of the toughest days of my life -- going to bury my younger brother," he said.

Still, Winfield has drawn strength from the support of his coaches and teammates. General Manager Rick Spielman also traveled to Ohio to attend Travis' funeral.

Winfield, at 35 and in his 14th season, remains the consummate professional. Last week, he said, his brother's passing provided a surge of motivation.

"I played a lot harder," Winfield said. "Running around, trying to hit everything, feeling no pain."

Will that resolve stay intact?

KEEP AN EYE ON ...

Percy Harvin. The Vikings hope they can keep Harvin in one piece all season. His combination of athleticism, toughness and versatility is way too good not to take advantage of regularly.

Harvin's 192-all purpose yards against Jacksonville (84 receiving, 20 rushing, 88 on returns) came via his usual demolition-derby running style.

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave lauds Harvin's willingness to adapt. But the coaching staff knows it has to find a balance of using Harvin often without using him too much, where his hunger for contact could lead to injury.

"[It's] no fair dodging; that's Percy's theme," Musgrave said. "He's not going to avoid anybody. He can make people miss, like we know. He's agile. But he's not going to run out of bounds. He's going to run through or run over somebody."

COLTS SCOOP

Wayne might be Indianapolis' most established offensive playmaker. But the Vikings will also have to pay proper attention to tight end Coby Fleener. The 6-6, 252-pound rookie had six grabs for 82 yards against the Bears, providing evidence of the rapport he has with quarterback Andrew Luck. The former Stanford teammates connected 34 times for 667 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2011.

Running back Donald Brown also gives Indy's offense some pop when the line provides any sort of opening. Brown had only nine carries last week, but five went for 7 yards or more, including an 18-yard touchdown run.

INJURIES AND FINES

Friday's biggest news came from Indianapolis, where rush linebacker Dwight Freeney was ruled out for Sunday because of a sprained ankle. Other Colts notables on the report: Guard Joe Reitz is out because of a knee injury, and receiver Austin Collie (head) is doubtful.

Among Vikings starters, center John Sullivan (ankle) practiced Friday and is probable for Sunday. Cook (biceps) and Adrian Peterson (knee) are also listed as probable.

A league spokesman said Vikings defensive linemen Letroy Guion and Everson Griffen are lighter by a combined $23,625 this week.

Guion was fined $7,875 for roughing the passer Sunday; he was penalized for jumping on Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert, and the league said he "unnecessarily struck an opponent late."

Griffen was fined $15,750 for roughing the passer by making helmet-to-helmet contact. He wasn't penalized on the play.

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