Ryan Cook Plays Well In Place Of Injured Sullivan

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 27, 2010 – 12:20 pm

Vikings starting C John Sullivan has been dealing with a calf injury since the early part of training camp and it looked like he was battling back to solid playing shape through the 1st couple games of the 2010 regular season. But Cook didn’t even make it a couple of plays into Sunday’s game against the Lions before he re-aggravated that calf injury.

On the Vikings 1st offensive play against Detroit, Sullivan was injured and came out of the game. He was unable to return, meaning veteran Ryan Cook assumed the position because backup C Jon Cooper was inactive. Cook played C in college and was selected in the 2nd round of the 2006 draft but has been unable to develop into a regular starter.

He still isn’t a regular starter for the Vikings, but he looked the part on Sunday.

“He really did a great job,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said on Monday. “You didn’t see any downturn on anything.”

Childress did point out that Cook had 2 penalties called against him, but ultimately the head coach said “you didn’t see any physical shortcomings by him at all in there in terms of playing the offensive line.”

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Cook, Griffin Make Successful Returns To Lineup

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 27, 2010 – 8:25 am

An already impressively strong Vikings defense got a lot stronger on Sunday because CBs Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin made their returns to the lineup after battling back from knee injuries. As a result, the Vikings secondary played perhaps its best game of the short season.

Griffin injured his knee during last year’s NFC Championship Game and aggressively rehabbed the injury to the point where he wanted to be on the field at the commencement of training camp. The Vikings decided against that move but Griffin continued his hard work and was able to come back earlier than anyone anticipated.

Cook injured his knee at the end of the preseason and was forced to sit out the team’s first 2 regular season games. But he, too, worked hard to get back and made his return on Sunday along with Griffin. The ultimate result was a much deeper Vikings CB corps and a stronger secondary overall.

“Great to have those two guys back,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said after the game. “It’s nice to have two bigger bodies in there. I know that Cedric contested a couple of passes, and Chris had a nice breakup. They’ll only get better and better as they get back into that football shape and practicing potentially as starters.”

Neither Griffin nor Cook were stars of the game so to speak, but as Childress pointed out they both had impact plays and their presence in the lineup added depth to the position and also made players around them better. I was told by someone after the game that S Husain Abdullah had his best game of the season and my sense is that it could have something to do with both Cook and Griffin being in the lineup.

Following the victory over Detroit, both Cook and Griffin spoke with reporters in the locker room and sounded like guys who approached their rehab the correct way and were also thrilled to be back in the action.

“When you take time away from the game, you learn a bit more,” Griffin explained. “Your awareness is heightened, you gain appreciation for the game and that’s what I did. I appreciate this game and I love this game. I’m glad my teammates supported me and the coaches allowed me to get back into practice and get up to speed and get back out here for the Lions.”

Cook spoke about battling an injury early in his 1st season as a pro.

“It did hurt mentally to get hurt early on but I’m a confident guy and I didn’t let it kill my confidence,” the rookie CB said. “I just looked at it as a minor setback with a major comeback. I just worked as hard as I can to get back.”

As I stated above, the Vikings defense was already a strong unit without Cook and Griffin in the lineup. But there’s no doubt that the defense is even better with both CBs on the field. It’ll be interesting to see if the presence of Cook and Griffin in the lineup will alter how assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier schemes and strategizes.

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“All Day” Is Vikings All-Purpose Weapon

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 27, 2010 – 6:56 am

For a team that’s 1-2 and has faced its share of adversity so far in the young 2010 season, the Vikings also have quite a few positive trends through the first 3 games. The most positive of them all is the performance(s) of superstar RB Adrian Peterson, who is doing all the things the NFL’s best RB should be able to do.

Peterson rushed for 1,383 yard and 18 TDs a year ago and remained, for my money, the NFL’s best runner. But a bad habit of fumbling in big spots and the Vikings willingness to insert Chester Taylor into important spots such as 3rd downs and late-game passing situations yielded some criticism for young #28. Judging by his performance so far in 2009, Peterson took those criticisms to heart and through 3 games there really isn’t much to criticize in his game.

Peterson’s latest performance was his best, as he ripped through the Detroit Lions defense for 160 yards and 2 TDs on 23 carries. He’s now the NFC’s leading rusher and is ranked 2nd in the NFL with 392 yards. Only Houston’s Arian Foster has more rushing yards (406) and no one in the NFC is within sight of Peterson (Ahmad Bradshaw has 253 rushing yards). On top of that, Peterson is averaging 5.6 yards per rush and 130.7 yards per game, numbers that both represent dramatic improvements from a season ago. Against the Lions on Sunday, Peterson displayed his game-breaking speed by bolting up the middle, bouncing outside and out-running everyone to the endzone for an 80-yard score, the longest of his career and the 4th-longest in team history.

But being an all-purpose back and also the best RB in the league is about more than racking up rushing yards and scoring TDs. While Peterson has had no problem with either of those tasks in 2010, he’s also been a factor in the Vikings passing game. Peterson had 5 receptions for 30 yards on Sunday against Detroit and he now has 13 receptions on the season, putting him on pace for 69 catches this season, a total that will smash his previous career high in receptions (43). In addition to his pass-catching contributions, Peterson has also been on the field frequently in 3rd down situations and a number of times he’s been the one to pick up a blitzing defender to buy QB Brett Favre extra time to convert a 3rd down pass.

In talking with my buddy Paul Allen – voice of the Vikings Radio Network – after Sunday’s win over Detroit, I thought he may have used the best adjective to describe Peterson’s performance on the season so far. He called it “professional,” which I think is appropriate because Peterson is doing all of the things you expect a professional RB to do. He’s picking up yardage as a rusher on the ground and he’s pulling his weight in the passing game both as a receiver and blocker.

On top of everything I just mentioned, Peterson has also (knock on wood) not fumbled the ball this year. This offseason much of the talk about Peterson was not about the fact that he owns 3 of the top 4 single-season rushing totals in Vikings history or that he set a team record and led the NFL in rushing TDs last year with 18. It was about his fumbling issues – he had 7 fumbles and lost 6 of them last year – and whether or not he could resolve that issue.

It’s only been 3 games, but so far so good in the fumbling department. Peterson seems conscious of protecting the ball and that mental awareness has not hindered his physical abilities. He’s displaying the running form we’ve become accustomed to and also the running form that has made him the best RB in the NFL.

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