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.


Questions at cornerback linger

Posted by: Chip Scoggins Updated: August 28, 2013 - 11:03 AM

Earlier in training camp I wrote a column about the Vikings cornerback situation and the unknowns at that position going into the season.

"There are a lot of question marks," coach Leslie Frazier admitted.

While Christian Ponder's development at quarterback remains an overarching theme with this team, the cornerback position is not far behind on the list of concerns as the season approaches. 

The Vikings loss to San Francisco on Sunday night highlighted two main issues: Chris Cook's health and Josh Robinson's ability to play the nickel-slot role.

Cook left the game early with a groin injury. Frazier said Tuesday that the injury is not serious, but it was another reminder that the Vikings need Cook to show that he can stay healthy this season as the leader of that group.

Cook has missed more games (22) than he's played in his three seasons. If he can't stay on the field this season, the Vikings are going to put in a bind because they lack depth at that position.

Robinson is listed as the starter at left cornerback but he moves inside to the slot in nickel situations with rookie Xavier Rhodes playing on the outside.

Antoine Winfield was a perfect fit for that nickel role because he is the best tackling corner in the NFL and he has such a high football IQ.

With Winfield gone, Robinson is making the transition to that role -- which he's never played before this season -- and he had a rough performance against the 49ers. He got beat on the first touchdown pass and was in coverage on a number of completed passes.

Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams last week praised Robinson's improvement, saying he looks more comfortable in the slot. But opponents almost certainly will test Robinson once the regular season starts.

"Josh is making some progress," Frazier said Tuesday. "There are definitely some things he will need to get better at prior to that Detroit game, but like some of the other young guys that we have on our team, he is playing a new position, and there are going to be some moments where he has to learn from some of the mistakes that he might make. But he is making progress. We need to keep putting him in positions to get him up to speed at that position, but we think that he is more than capable of getting it done."

 
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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