Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He has temporarily returned to cover the Minnesota Vikings. He had the beat from 2008-2011 after covering college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.Find Chip on Facebook.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
Vikings cornerback Chris Cook revealed after practice that the NFL, according to Cook's agent, has fined him "something like $26,000" for making contact with an official and being ejected after giving up a 46-ayrd touchdown pass in the third quarter of Sunday's game against the Bears.
"My agent already appealed it," Cook said. "We'll see what happens. Most of the guys in here don't think it will be reduced, but we'll see."
Cook said he's learned from the incident and his ensuing talk with coach Leslie Frazier, who obviously wasn't happy to lose one of his starting corners, especially considering the secondary already was undermanned because of injuries and last week's release of A.J. Jefferson.
"I know I have to keep my composure; that's basically what [Frazier] told me," Cook said. "I was just frustrated with some things in the game and lost my composure. I can guarantee it will not happen again."
Cook said he was most upset about what he thought was offensive pass interference two plays before he was ejected.
"I know it was pass interference, but I'm not a referee, so it's not my call to make," Cook said. "The ball was literally falling into my lap and my arm was being grabbed and I couldn't get my arm up. I was frustrated about that, and they turn around and score and it made me even more mad. I let my emotions get the best of me. I know I can't act like that, especially towards an official."
As for making contact with the official, Cook said it was minor.
"I kind of touched his arm, but it wasn't really like I was trying to push him on the ground or something," Cook said. "They made it seem like I was trying to push him on the ground. But I just got up and said, `That was bull' about the play a few plays before. But I can't really do anything about what they call within the game. I have to be a man about it and move on to the next play."
Cook also was asked what's at stake for him over the final four games. His contract is up at the end of the year.
"Your guy's guess is as good as mine," he said. "My future, that's really the thing that's at stake for me. It's a contract year for me. I've had a pretty rough year by my standards. I just have to go and ball out these last four games."
Updated injury report:
Six Vikings did not practice. They were RB Adrian Peterson (groin), CB Josh Robinson (sternum), TE Kyle Rudolph (ankle), S Jamarca Sanford (ankle), LB Larry Dean (knee) and QB Christian Ponder (concussion). DE Jared Allen (finger) and LB Chad Greenway (wrist) were limited.
Two Ravens did not practice. They were DE Elvis Dumervil and S Brynden Trawick, both because of ankle injuries.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier announced today that Erin Henderson will start Sunday at Baltimore, but not at middle linebacker. Audie Cole will remain the starter at that spot while Henderson will return to weakside linebacker, a position he played prior to this season.
Henderson lost his job after his DWI arrest came to light last week. Henderson also has acknowledged that he's dealing with a personal issue, which caused him to miss the Green Bay game.
Henderson will return to the lineup after dressing but not playing in Sunday's victory against the Bears.
"It’s a huge thing for me," he said. "I didn’t really know how it was going to play out or what was going to happen once everything came out [about his arrest] and happened the way it did. It's another chance, another opportunity."
Henderson is familiar with the weakside spot so he shouldn't face any adjustment in shifting back to that role.
"From a pride standpoint and from a player’s standpoint, it’s a little bit difficult," he said. "But I accept my role and I understand what they’re trying to get done here and I’m behind my coach and the organization and whatever else decisions they make.”
The target of criticism for fans and media this season, Henderson said he's in a good frame of mind now, but he acknowledged that he let the criticism get to him this season.
"I have a lot of things to be happy about and thankful for aside from all the naysayers and haters and everybody else who's had different things to say about me throughout the year," he said. "Sometimes I let it get to me and get me down too much. I've come to grips with it and come to terms with it and I'm able to look at myself and know the man that I am and accept it.
".... I go out there every Sunday and I play my guts out, leave it on the line for my teammates and myself as well. So when you get some negative feedback it can be kind of a tough pill to swallow. But then you learn some of those people are idiots, sitting behind computers and phones saying whatever they want to say and you can't give it too much credit. Take it with a grain of salt and continue to move forward."
Henderson said he's limited his interaction on Twitter because of that criticism.
"I thought about deleting my account but that's giving them even more satisfaction," he said. "I still have my account but it's not on my phone so I don't check it as often and I don't tweet out too much. I think it is still good for those fans who appreciate the interaction and being able to reach out to people. There are a lot of good people out there. I get a lot of positive feedback as well. I don't think I give that enough credit or appreciation for the people who are talking well about me and who do have things to say about me. It can be kind of difficult to see sometimes with so much negativity coming your way.
"... Even with Audie going out there playing well. Instead of people just being happy for Audie playing, it's 'Audie's playing well, Erin sucks, get him out of there, he should never play again.' Why do I have to have anything to do with that? Just be happy for Audie and what he's doing and the opportunity he's taking advantage of."
Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel will start on Sunday against the Ravens. Head coach Leslie Frazier said Christian Ponder hasn't passed the concussion protocol. He's still dealing with some symptoms.
"There are some things that, at this stage, [Ponder] has to get done that he wasn't able to get done today," Frazier said of Ponder's concussion tests.
The team will proceed with Josh Freeman as the backup, Frazier said.
Cassel led the team in a 23-20 overtime win over the Bears after Ponder left the game before halftime with the concussion. Cassel went 20-33 for 243 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
"What he did in the second half of that ballgame on Sunday, and also, seeing his comfort level with where we are, and having a comfort level with him, as well," Frazier said of starting Cassel over Freeman. "But his work on Sunday has a lot to do with it. He did an outstanding job in the second half of that ballgame against Chicago."
Cassel said he's approaching this development with a "one-week season" mentality.
"If you start looking ahead, looking for the future, the what-ifs and putting added pressure on yourself, it’s as difficult as it can possibly be every Sunsday because there’s always good opponents," Cassel said. "But my focus is always on this opponent, this game, and we’ll worry about the future later.”
One quarterback has already removed himself from the 2014 NFL Draft.
Oregon announced on its official Instagram account redshirt sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota will return for his junior season. He completed 63.1 percent of his passes this season for 3,412 yards, 30 touchdowns and four interceptions.
“It is an honor to be a student at the University of Oregon and to have the opportunity to represent our institution on the football field alongside my teammates,” Mariota said in a press release. “I look forward to earning my degree next year and to the rest of my career at this great university.”
Mariota was ranked the top quarterabck (third overall) by ESPN's Scouts Inc. and Todd McShay ahead of Lousville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (fifth), but Mel Kiper Jr. had Mariota as the second best quarterback (fifth overall) behind Bridgewater.
The announcement eliminates a possible option at quarterback for the Vikings in the upcoming draft.
Without Mariota, Bridgewater, Hundley and Manziel have been widely regarded as the top quarterbacks in this class, but they all also still have eligibility remaining. Hundley is the least likely to declare for the draft out of the three quarterbacks.
If the season ended today, the Vikings would have the sixth overall pick.
Every Tuesday morning, we take a look at where the Vikings would pick in the 2014 NFL Draft if the season ended today.
Note: The first tiebreaker is strength of schedule where the team with the worst strength of schedule percentage wins the tiebreaker and gets a better pick. Strength of schedule is based off the win percentage of a team’s opponents, so there’s two ways to calculate it during the season. One would be to factor in a team’s entire 16-game schedule, or the other method would be to tally the records of games already played (the method used in this blog). At the end of the year, both methods will result in the same SOS percentage.
A Tuesday after a win surely meant the Vikings would slide in the current draft projection order, but two teams in front of them also won.
The Vikings are just outside the top five at the moment with the 23-20 overtime win over the Bears. Here’s how the draft order looks right now (records and strength of schedule, if necessary, in parentheses):
They’re still not in a bad position for a possible top five pick, but again that tie against the Packers isn’t helping out their situation. If the Vikings’ would’ve lost, their strength of schedule would be adjusted from .514 to .521.
The Vikings and Redskins would have the same strength of schedule percentage. The next tiebreaker is division records, but they bypass that since they’re not in the same division. The third tiebreaker is conference records, which applies in this situation because they’re both in the NFC.
The Redskins sit at 1-8 against the NFC at the moment. The Vikings would go from 2-7-1 to 2-8 with the hypothetical Packers loss. So here’s how the draft order would look in that situation:
They’d jump three spots to third at the moment, with one of those conference wins against the Redskins. With four weeks left, it’ll be fun to see how this plays out.
The Rams-Redskins trade for quarterback Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL Draft doesn’t look so bad now for St. Louis.
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