Audie Cole: Cut by Vikings one week, a star the next

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 1, 2013 - 7:49 AM

Awkward episode forgotten, he earned another start.

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Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jarrett Boykin was stopped by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Audie Cole (57) and Xavier Rhodes (29) short of a fist down in the fourth quarter during NFL action between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field Sunday November 24.

 

Audie Cole understood the plan and the reasoning, but even a temporary pink slip brought a jolt of NFL reality.

Depleted at offensive tackle because of injuries, the Vikings placed Cole on waivers and promoted tackle Kevin Murphy from the practice squad the day of the Washington game on Nov. 7. Cole received the news at the team hotel.

The Vikings had every intention of bringing Cole back after the game, provided he wasn’t claimed by another team. This wasn’t a permanent goodbye, but more of a necessary business decision in a pinch.

That didn’t make it any less awkward for Cole, a second-year backup linebacker. He had scored tickets for a college friend who was in town for business.

“I just called her and said, ‘Hey, we’re not going to the game,’ ” he said.

He also had rounded up pregame sideline passes for a group of teachers who are friends of his aunt. The teachers stopped by the team hotel to pick them up after Cole had been released.

“I didn’t tell them anything,” he said. “I gave them field passes and just left.”

Cole watched the game at the home of injured safety Harrison Smith. No team claimed him, which Cole anticipated, he said, because the game was on Thursday and teams had already set the rosters for the week. And, he noted, his NFL résumé is fairly short.

“It wasn’t like I really had anything for anyone to go off,” he said. “I was kind of planning on just being back here the next day.”

Even so, Cole, who returned two days later, described the entire episode last week as “not cool.” But given how much has changed since then, he’s able to smile and shrug it off now.

“I guess it’s kind of weird if you think about it, but honestly I kind of forget that it even happened,” he said. “You just have to have a short memory and you can’t worry about what’s going to happen in personnel decisions.”

Cole is a textbook example of the NFL’s fluid nature. The 2012 seventh-round pick made his first career start at Green Bay last week in place of Erin Henderson, who missed the game because of personal reasons.

Rookie Michael Mauti might have earned the start, but he was listed as questionable after tweaking his knee in a loss at Seattle the previous week.

Cole burst through that opening by delivering the best performance by a Vikings linebacker this season in a 26-26 tie at Lambeau Field. Cole was credited with 18 tackles (two for loss), one sack and three quarterback hurries.

His 18 tackles were a season high by a Vikings defender, and he nearly produced as many quarterback hurries in one game as Henderson had (five) in 10 games.

Cole also wore battle scars befitting a middle linebacker. He suffered a gash on his forehead during a collision with a Packers lineman. He believes the wound required six stitches to close.

“I just counted as he was putting them in,” he said.

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