Running back Dalvin Cook said he wasn't surprised his overtime fumble was upheld by officials during Sunday's overtime loss in Cincinnati, calling it a "50/50" type of replay that can only be prevented by not letting go of the football.
Ball security is a renewed focus, Cook said, after what was his sixth fumble (fourth lost) in his past 13 games dating back to last season.
"I've been playing football since I was 4 years old," Cook said. "I've fumbled. Just got to be better; got to attack it a little better, be a little better in the ball security. You get the ball so many times in a football game and the value of taking care of the football is like the world when it's in your hands. Got to take care of it, and I'm moving on, and getting that bad taste out."
He's moved on to a Cardinals defense that just stymied the Titans offense, which with running back Derrick Henry features a similar run-first, play-action style as the Vikings offense. The Cardinals crammed defenders near the line of scrimmage and held Henry to just 8 rushing yards before halftime of Arizona's 38-13 win.
"They loaded up the box," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "They want to be a single-high [safety] team for the most part, if they can. They'll mix in a little bit of quarters [coverage] and two-deep [safeties], but they're predominantly a single-high team that wants to get extra guys in the box and they want to make you one-dimensional."
The Cardinals could take a similar approach against the Vikings and Cook, who had 104 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in Cincinnati.
"It's nothing new for my offensive line," Cook said. "We've just got to clean a lot of things up, knowing who we're getting on, knowing who we're going to in the defensive fronts and stuff like that. We should be good."
Barr remains sidelined
The Vikings returned to practice Wednesday without linebacker Anthony Barr, who remains sidelined because of an ailing knee. Barr and cornerback Harrison Hand, who suffered a hamstring injury while playing special teams in Cincinnati, were the only players held out. Before practice, Zimmer only said Barr was "feeling better than he did" Tuesday, but the Pro Bowler remains out.
Linebacker Nick Vigil, Barr's replacement in an every-down role, played well but is dealing with an ankle injury that limited him in practice. Rookie tackle Christian Darrisaw also remains limited as he eases into the mix from his Aug. 12 groin surgery.
Breeland's 'mental errors'
Three days later, cornerback Bashaud Breeland was still lamenting two critical errors that contributed to Sunday's loss. Breeland said he should've turned toward the ball, not the receiver, when he was flagged for a pass interference that set up a Bengals touchdown. Then Breeland was caught playing too close to Bengals receiver Ja'Marr Chase, and eyeing quarterback Joe Burrow too long, when he was beat on the 50-yard touchdown before halftime.
"You take away the mental errors, it's a different ballgame," Breeland said. "We should be 1-0 right now. Those two mistakes I made really put us in a hole deep. But not one time did my team go weary on me. They all stood beside me."
Tinkering with D-line rotation
Eight defensive linemen were involved for the Vikings in Cincinnati, where co-coordinator Andre Patterson left feeling he can tweak the playing time. Defensive end Danielle Hunter could play a little less, Patterson said, while Stephen Weatherly could play more after impressing coaches. Patterson added he was "real encouraged" by what he saw from defensive end Everson Griffen in 28 snaps, including an assist on nose tackle Michael Pierce's second sack.
"It was an old patented Griff rush there that helped Mike," Patterson said. "Mike beat the guy clean, but Griff did a great job of collapsing the pocket from that side, so the quarterback had nowhere to escape."
Dantzler's path back
Cornerback Cameron Dantzler needs to focus on more than defending before the 2020 third-round pick can suit up for a game again, according to Zimmer. Dantzler was a healthy scratch in Cincinnati, starting his second NFL season on the sideline after starting 10 games as a rookie. Coaches activated backup corners Kris Boyd and Hand over Dantzler. Both of them play on kick coverage and returns.
"The first thing is [Dantzler] has got to play special teams," Zimmer said. "If you're a backup player, you've got to play special teams."