Monday, March 2, 2015
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chris cook

Photo Courtesy of Vikings.com
Photo Courtesy of Vikings.com

The Vikings claimed Shaun Prater off waivers on October 22, 2013 from the Philadelphia Eagles. Prater was originally drafted in the fifth round with pick 156 in 2012 by the Cincinnati Bengals. A knee injury derailed his rookie season and forced him on injured reserve for almost the entire year.

Geoff Hobson, the editor for Bengals.com wrote this about Prater last March.

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Matt Asiata did an admirable job last week, filling in for hobbled running backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, but the position is seeing a return to normalcy this week in Cincinnati.

Peterson and Gerhart are both active for today’s matchup with the Bengals, and Asiata is inactive after struggling with an ankle injury of his own.

Today’s Vikings inactives are:  QB Josh Freeman, DE Justin Trattou, RB Matt Asiata, OT Mike Remmers, WR Rodney Smith, DT Chase Baker, and CB Xavier Rhodes.

While injury continues to keep Rhodes out of action, Chris Cook should return to the field, and now has only two games left to “ball out” and prove to all 32 teams that he is not an NFL bust before he potentially enters free agency.  Starting guard Brandon Fusco is also active today after missing last week’s game.

Feel free to join other Vikings fans in our Live Chat Page to discuss the game as it unfolds.

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The Vikings will have to take on the Philadelphia Eagles without their star running back Adrian Peterson today, who suffered a foot injury last week in Baltimore.  They also won’t have his backup Toby Gerhart available as he is inactive today with a hamstring injury.

Running back Matt Asiata will start today and Joe Banyard, recently activated from the practice squad, will get the lion’s share of the action.

Their starting duo of cornerbacks are also out today.  Chris Cook (knee) and Xavier Rhodes (ankle) will not be suiting up.  The injuries and other issues have once again blown up the Vikings depth chart at cornerback, which seems to happen on an annual basis, and Marcus Sherels and Shaun Prater are going to be your starters today, according to 1500 ESPN.  Not an ideal situation for those holding out hope for an upset win, but certainly can’t hurt Minnesota’s possible run at a top-three draft selection.

Guard Brandon Fusco is also inactive and will be replaced by Joe Berger as the starting right guard.

The good news is that Harrison Smith has been activated for today’s game.Smith suffered an injury on October 13th and hasn’t played since.  It remains to be seen just how much playing time the Vikings are willing to give to their star safety, given the game is essentially meaningless, but Smith makes any game more fun to watch.

Don’t forget to join our VT Live Chat during today’s game.

Linebacker Erin Henderson hasn’t seen any playing time these last two weeks, after his drunk driving arrest was made public, but that will change this week.  Also, after getting ejected from last week’s game for making contact with an official, cornerback Chris Cook should return to his starting post.

Cook’s disappointing contract season hit an all-time low last Sunday as Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery repeatedly abused Cook on his way to a record-setting performance.  Cook’s early exit was the result of frustration on his part, supposedly because the referee had failed to call a penalty for what Cook thought was offensive pass interference on Jeffery.

Cook has been fined $26,250 by the NFL, a standard fine for making contact with an official, but already had his agent appeal it.  It’d be a pretty big shock if he won any sort of appeal.

Cook, who avoided the media following the game and has stayed away from social media (presumably to avoid people like me) all week, admitted he needs to keep his cool and that he has a lot riding on these last four games.

“I know I have to keep my composure, that’s basically what [Frazier] told me, that was the big thing,” Cook said via 1500ESPN. “I was just frustrated with some things that happened in the game, lost my composure. I can guarantee it won’t happen again. ”

Coach Leslie Frazier expressed to Cook that the nature of the cornerback position means you will be on the wrong end of a lot of big plays and that a key part of being successful is handling those moments better than Cook handled it last weekend.  With Cook’s rookie contract nearly up, and with him still struggling as a player and as a personality, it is looking more and more likely that Rick Spielman will let his former second rounder enter free agency unrestricted.

Henderson started this season as the team’s middle linebacker, but has officially lost his job after his arrest open the door for Audie Cole to have back-to-back performances that show promise, and we have now learned what many of us suspected all along.  This week, speaking with the media, Leslie Frazier admitted that having Henderson play in the middle was not the team’s first choice and that the results of the Draft made him the best choice by default.

“He was moved to the ‘Mike’ linebacker position not necessarily because that’s what we wanted to do, but that was the plight that we were in,” Frazier said. “He didn’t come in a year ago as our middle linebacker. There were some things that happened over the offseason that resulted in him being our middle linebacker. He’s a very good outside backer and expect him to play well on Sunday.”

As 4-3 outside linebackers go, Henderson has been one of the better weakside guys in the NFL since Ben Leber left the vacancy open, and it’ll be interesting to see how he plays at his intended spot.  Henderson talked a big game prior to the season, denouncing the critics and the speculation surrounding the team’s decision to sign Desmond Bishop, but now Henderson admits he heard what was being said and that it impacted him personally.

“I have a lot of things to be happy about and thankful for, aside from all the naysayers and haters everybody else who’s had different things to say about me throughout the year,” Henderson said. “Sometimes I let it get to me and get 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.”

Cole is intriguing.  Henderson moving back to the weakside is interesting.  However, what most has my curiosity up is the question of who the Vikings were targeting in April’s Draft that was going to be the solution, and why Rick Spielman was unable to haul his guy in despite having (by the end of the night) three first round picks at his disposal.

I’m not saying the three picks he made were bad ones, I love this year’s rookie class, but it was no secret all offseason long that middle linebacker was a huge need for the Vikings and Rick Spielman’s inability to find a fix is a glaring mistake on his record.  It isn’t like this problem can simply be blamed on injuries or suspension, this appears to be a flat-out swing and a miss.

And, in somewhat out-of-character fashion, Frazier seems to have gone out of his way to let the world know that he was given second-tier options at arguably the defense’s most important position.

 

The Vikings season is not over yet, but it is certainly dead, and before we get too far ahead of ourselves by looking towards the offseason for quick fixes, I wanted to look closer into the causes of death.  In this series we will look at the long list of reasons this season has been such an epic failure.  Up first, my good buddy, cornerback Chris Cook.

Today, I had a bit of an online scuffle with Cook, after he let the world know that he was “still in bed” on his day off I noticed that many of his teammates were volunteering at a Children’s Hospital at that very moment.  Then, chippy bastard that I am, I suggested that maybe Cook’s tweet about taking a day off was actually meant to be posted on Sunday.  He then decided he had seen enough of me and told me to “get a life” and promptly blocked our VT account from communicating with his.

He then went on a little rant stating “I swear some people live to try and make other people look bad” and “I guess I’m not allowed to have a day off!”  I assume the people that he is referring to are all NFL wide outs.

He then went on to say “laptop thugs are the worst.”  I would actually argue that, you know, real thugs are worse.  Whatever, though, different chokes for different folks.  He then suggested that he would like to be rude, presumably back to me, but that the “little birdie called media” prevents him from doing so.

Now perhaps I didn’t utilize much tact in my tweets, and didn’t show much respect, but the fact is Chris Cook is my least favorite Vikings player we’ve had in a long time and his social media habits in contrast to, say, Greg Jennings is one of the reasons for it.  I can’t think of a single moment, in almost four full seasons, that I have been proud to see Cook wearing a horn on his helmet.

Injuries, an arrest involving a firearm, and an arrest for felony domestic assault by strangulation have caused him to be one of team’s least reliable players over the last four years.  He only played in six games his rookie season, six in 2011, 10 in 2012, and eight so far this year.  When he does manage to stay on the field, however, the results have not been very impressive.

Through 30 games played (26 starts) Pro Football Reference credits Cook with a career stat line of 84 tackles, one sack, and 13 defended passes.  That means he has zero interceptions, zero forced fumbles, zero recoveries, and virtually no big plays to his name whatsoever.  Turnovers aren’t the only measure of a defender in the NFL, but a lack of them has been a big reason the Vikings secondary continues to look miserable.

Cook is far from the worst talent the Vikings have at the position, but he has failed to live up to the hype that caused the Vikings to draft him in the second round in 2010, and he doesn’t seem to have progressed at all since last year.  You wouldn’t expect a player of his size to play so soft so consistently, but he does, and the result is a player as unintimidating in coverage as he is in run defense.

Rick Spielman and Brad Childress made Cook their top choice in 2010, but Childress is long gone and Cook is now in the final year of his rookie deal.  Cook was acquitted of both his felony charges, after the Vikings essentially paid him to stay home, and Judd Zulgad has reported a few times that his presence on the roster didn’t sit well within the locker room at that time.

Cook is going to be a unrestricted free agent following this season.  The Vikings could likely keep him around for another year on the cheap, but it remains to be seen if they have any interest in doing so.  Nearly every week he has been a giant question mark since joining the team and never once has he appeared to be any sort of answer.

One thing is for sure, though, and that is that the Vikings surely won’t be content relying on Cook going into 2014 and will be forced to search for more upgrades at the corner position.

Stay tuned for the next version of our Autopsy Report on the 2013 season.  I might even update you all on whether or not I finally got a life.

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