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.


Cook could return this week

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Vikings, NFC, Leslie Frazier, Vikings defense, Vikings injury report, Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Brian Robison Updated: December 17, 2012 - 2:30 PM

 Vikings expect Cook to be ready

Vikings cornerback Chris Cook could return to the field Sunday in Houston.

Cook, who broke his right arm Oct. 26 against Tampa Bay, was put on injured reserve with designation to return, a new category this season. Each team is allowed to use one such designation per season.

Cook has been practicing with the team two weeks. This Sunday will be the first time he will be eligible to play.

“We’ll continue to practice him much like we have the last couple of weeks,” Frazier said at his weekly Monday press conference, “with the mindset that we’re getting him ready to play because he’s eligible. We’ll have to see how he does as the week goes on, but our goal is to try to get him up if he shows that he’s ready. We’ll make that determination later in the week.”

In Cook’s absence, A.J. Jefferson has been taking the majority of snaps at the right cornerback position.

Cook’s return would be timely with the Vikings still chasing a playoff spot and with a tough road game against the Texans on the schedule.

Frazier said he didn’t know whether Cook would start or not should he play.

“We’ll just have to see how he does during the week and see how he comes along from a conditioning standpoint, as well as some of the things we’ll ask him to do game plan-wise,” Frazier said. “And then we’ll make a decision later in the week.”

Should Cook be active, the Vikings would have to make a roster move to make room for him. One possibility would be to release tackle Troy Kropog with the idea of returning him to the team’s practice

squad.

 

Forcing adjustments

Frazier said quarterback Christian Ponder’s play early helped spring running back Adrian Peterson.

The Rams were clearly keying on getting penetration to slow Peterson, who started slowly. Frazier said getting Ponder on the move helped change that.

“What kind of helped us was some of the naked (bootlegs) that we ran early that got Christian on the perimeter a bit. It made them take a little bit off of what they were trying to do as far as bringing a lot of people to the line of scrimmage. They had to step back at some point and say, ‘We need to play a little coverage.’ Once we got them in that mode … we were able to create some openings in their defense. But it was obvious their game plan was to just have a lot of people at the line of scrimmage to try to get penetration.”

 

Why bother?

Frazier was asked if he spent any time trying to figure out the NFC playoff scenarios involving his team.

In a word, no.

“I won’t even try,” he said. “I won’t even try. (The team will be) focusing on how we can beat a very, very good football team, the Houston Texans. That’s the most important thing, without question.”

 

Moving like a linebacker

Remember when the Vikings spent some time looking at Everson Griffen at linebacker? Sunday fans saw the skills that prompted the Vikings to give that a try. With the Vikings in a zone blitz, Griffen lined up at defensive end but dropped into coverage, intercepting Sam Bradford and sprinting 29 yards for a second-quarter touchdown.

“He’s one of those guys that can drop back in coverage, but yet he can put his hand in the dirt and rush the passer as well,” Frazier said. “That makes him unique in that regard. That’s one of the reasons we looked at him at linebacker. Some of the traits you saw on that (interception) were linebacker traits. The catch, the turn, and of course the run as well. You just don’t see D-linemen to be able to run down the sidelines like he did.”

 

Injury update

Defensive lineman Brian Robison, who sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder in the first quarter of Sunday’s game in St. Louis, is questionable for the game in Houston. The team, confident in its diagnosis, did not do an MRI on the shoulder, opting for an X-ray instead.

“We’ll have to see how he does throughout the week,” Frazier said. “We’ll get a better gauge towards the end of the week whether or not he has a chance or not.”

The only other injuries were minor, Frazier said. Cornerback/returner Marcus Sherels had a back contusion, but should play. And running back Adrian Peterson had some soreness coming out of the game.

Frazier said the team planned to continue to rest veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield during the week to keep him ready for games.

 

Warming up

To get ready for what the Vikings expect to be a warm Sunday in Houston, the indoor practice facility will be heated up during practice this week.

“Our players don’t know that yet, but on Wednesday when they come back we’re going to warm it up a little bit,” Frazier said. “They’re predicting about 72 to 75 (degrees in Houston Sunday), which is a lot different than where we are now.”

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