Today is an exciting day for vikings.com because the organization and it’s official sporting goods retailer – Sports Authority – are set to open the brand new “Sports Authority Studios” at Winter Park with a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for this afternoon.
The on-site production studio will be used for the filming of the Vikings pregame show, Vikings GamePlan, interviews for the Vikings Radio Network and flagship station KFAN AM 1130, vikings.com video productions plus various photo and video shoots.
“Sports Authority is honored to partner with the Minnesota Vikings to unveil the first ‘Sports Authority Studios’,” said Jeff Schumacher, Executive Vice President, CMO and CSO of Sports Authority. “This studio is a new concept for Sports Authority and we look forward to the growth of our partnership with the Vikings.”
The opening of Sports Authority Studios signifies an official launch to Vikings Entertainment Network (VEN) – the umbrella for all Vikings entertainment initiatives including broadcast, website and in-stadium programming.
“We are thrilled to have a partner like Sports Authority with the vision to join us on such an important initiative,” said Bryan Harper, Vikings Sr. Marketing Manager and Executive Producer, VEN. “Sports Authority Studios will allow us to maximize programming efforts and provide even more exclusive content for Vikings fans.”
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With CB Cedric Griffin’s status for the early part of the 2010 season in question because of a knee injury he suffered in the NFC Championship Game, the Vikings made sure to bolster their depth at CB heading into the offseason program. They did this by signing free agent Lito Sheppard, re-signing Benny Sapp, continuing to develop Asher Allen and drafting Chris Cook.
With so much competition on the depth chart for that starting spot, including a pair of veterans with a solid body of work in the NFL already, it’d be a tall task for a rookie such as Cook to earn the job. But with just 13 days to go until the Vikings regular season opener in New Orleans, Cook may end up tackling the task.
Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune wrote earlier this week that Cook may start at right CB on Saturday evening against the Seattle Seahawks, a significant development for 2 reasons: 1) Saturday’s game is the 3rd preseason game, which is considered a “dress rehearsal” for NFL teams as the regular season approaches and 2) Cook has been spending most of his time in training camp and the preseason playing left CB behind starter Antoine Winfield.
For one reason or another, the Vikings have decided to insert Cook into the competition on the left side with Allen and Sheppard. It could be that the coaching staff is seriously considering him as a starter. Or it could be the coaching staff just wants the 2nd round rookie to experience both CB positions.
Either way, I view these developments as a positive sign of Cook’s future with the Vikings. At 6-2, 212 pounds, Cook has excellent size for a CB in assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier’s scheme. And while his size and physicality are good, I’ve also been impressed with his ability to make plays on the ball. In one training camp practice 3 weeks ago, Cook made 2 INTs down the field where he battled a WR. If he can consistently come up with those plays downfield, he has a legitimate chance to be an all-around solid CB, with the ability to cover WRs downfield but also come up and support the run.
For now, though, we’ll temper the enthusiasm and let Cook’s play speak for itself. That is the approach the Vikings coaching staff is taking.
“He’s done some decent things over there,” Childress said of Cook playing on the right side. “That’s where he played his senior year. He played left before that. We’re worried a little bit about the footwork. I think he’s done some okay things over there. I think he’s probably more comfortable just because he spent all those turns at training camp on the left, but we’ll get a chance to see him play over there a little bit.”
Said Frazier: “Well we want to get through this next ballgame and get a chance to evaluate this third preseason ballgame. Chris will get some reps, Asher will get some reps and so will Lito. And then we will try to put together what we have seen over training camp and preseason games and try to make a decision.”
If Cook performs well on Saturday night and winds up with that starting job for Week 1, it says more about his development than it does about the inability of Allen or Sheppard to win the job. Credit goes to Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman and his scouting staff, along with Childress, for selecting Cook early in the 2nd round after trading out of the 1st round. If you remember, Cook was regarded by many as a notch below other CBs in the 2010 draft, such as Joe Haden, Devin McCourty, Patrick Robinson and Kyle Wilson.
Tags: Chris Cook, Leslie Frazier
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