Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Chris Cook earning coaches' trust, praise with development

Posted by: under Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Vikings defense, Antoine Winfield, Leslie Frazier Updated: October 23, 2012 - 2:44 PM

Of all the reasons the Vikings defense has propelled a 5-2 start, it's been the play of the secondary that has provided the greatest encouragement. The return of cornerbacks Chris Cook and Antoine Winfield, the arrival of rookie safety Harrison Smith and the consistent energy provided by Jamarca Sanford have all put the Vikings in position to be pretty formidable against the pass.

With Week 8 now here, the Vikings rank 10th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing just 219.4 yards per game. They've done so even as they've registered four of their five wins without trailing.

Yes, Winfield seems rejuvenated at age 35, playing with incredible energy at all times. But on Tuesday, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier singled out Cook as a player who's quickly ascending.

“I think his confidence has just grown," Frazier said. "Early in the season, I thought he was coming along, but he has really taken a leap over the last two or three weeks. I’ve been very, very impressed with the progress he’s made."

Cook played a big role in helping to limit Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald to four catches and 29 yards Sunday. Now he'll get another big test Thursday night against Tampa Bay's Vincent Jackson.

A year ago, Cook was arrested after a domestic dispute with his then-girlfriend. The Vikings exiled him from the team for the final 10 games of 2011 but always hoped Cook would get back in the mix. Now, he's taking care of his business.

Said Frazier: "There was a transition for him getting back and playing and getting up to the level that we thought
he was at about this time a year ago. But his confidence has grown. A lot of that has to do not only with the success he is having in practice, but also what he’s doing in the games. We feel like he can match up with
some of the best receivers in this league."

Frazier said defensive backs coach Joe Woods has consistently challenged Cook to play to his potential. Cook's combination of size -- he's 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds -- and quickness makes him a weapon.

"We drafted him because of his size and his length and his speed and his football IQ," Frazier said. "It’s been a matter of time for him getting the reps because he’s still a guy that doesn’t have a long resume when it comes to starts. The more time on task he gets the better it seems he’s performing."

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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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