Chris Cook (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)
The Vikings pass defense fell to 22nd in the league after giving up 345 net passing yards to Sam Bradford and the Rams, but there could be a well-time infusion into the secondary for Minnesota. Plus, injury updates and other notes.
Vikings CB Chris Cook is eligible to return to the lineup Sunday against the Houston Texans after spending the last six weeks on injured reserve/designated to return when he suffered a broken arm on Oct. 25.
“We’ll continue to practice him much like we have the last couple of weeks, with the mindset that we’re getting him ready to play because he’s eligible,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “We’ll have to see how he does as the week goes on, but our goal is to try to get him up if he shows that he’s ready. We’ll make that determination later in the week.”
Frazier said the Vikings wouldn’t decide until later this week whether Cook will start, some of that decision being based on his conditioning.
The timing couldn’t be better. Cook, at 6-foot-2, is the Vikings’ biggest cornerback, and Minnesota travels to Houston, where it will play the sixth-ranked offense and the 11th-ranked passing offense.
Of course, that offense features Andre Johnson, who has single-game records this year in the NFL with 14 catches for 273 yards on Nov. 18 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and who has 93 catches for 1,360 yards this season. He is also 6-foot-3, 230 pounds – just the type of matchup Cook has been anticipating.
“Really, when I saw the schedule come out and I saw Houston on there, that was one of my target games anyway. Andre Johnson, as a corner you have to look forward to playing Andre Johnson. He’s one of the best receivers in the league,” Cook said in November as he anticipated his return this week. “If you can have a great game against him, then you can have a great game against anybody. That was my whole mindset when I saw Houston – that was the first person I thought about.”
RECORD-SEEKING WON’T AFFECT OFFENSE
Frazier said he has already talked with Adrian Peterson about how the Vikings will approach their final two regular-season games.
They likely need two wins to reach the playoffs, but Peterson is also within reach of Eric Dickerson’s all-time, single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards. Peterson has 1,812 yards and needs to average 147 yards rushing in the last two games to break the record. He has averaged 164 yards a game rushing in the last eight games and 192 yards in the last three games.
Frazier said the primary focus has to be on winning the games, not Peterson’s shot at the record.
“Adrian and I were just talking a few minutes ago about that part of things and what we’re trying to get accomplished. That’s to go out and get a win on the road in Houston,” Frazier said. “The record would be great. But the most important thing is to get a win in Houston. And the fact that he feels that way, that will permeate through the rest of our team. He wants to really concentrate on winning this game, more so than the record.”
ROBISON THE BIGGEST INJURY
Defensive end Brian Robison had X-rays on his injured right shoulder and it is believed to be a sprained AC joint. Frazier said Sunday that Robison would have an MRI, but he indicated Monday that wasn’t necessary.
“We’re just going to do an X-ray. They feel they know exactly what it is,” Frazier said. “It’s just a matter of time now.”
Robison was the biggest injury for the Vikings, but reserve cornerback and top punt return Marcus Sherels has a back contusion, according to Frazier, that he should be able to battle through.
WR Jerome Simpson and S Mistral Raymond, who each appeared to turn their ankles, should be fine. Each of them returned to the game.
Peterson is “a little sore,” according to Frazier, “but nothing that should hurt us going forward.”
If the playoffs started today, the Vikings would be the No. 6 seed and travel to Green Bay (currently No. 3), but there are numerous scenarios that could put the Vikings outside of the playoff picture in two weeks. Frazier said he won’t even attempt to break down all the possibilities. “I won’t even try. It will be really focusing on how we can beat a very, very good football team, the Houston Texans. That’s the most important thing without question.”
Frazier said the Vikings will turn up the heat in their practice facility later this week to prepare for temperatures that are expected to be in the 70s in Houston this weekend. “Our players don’t know that yet, but on Wednesday when they come back we’re going to warm it up a little bit,” Frazier said. “They’re predicting about 72 to 75, which is a lot different than where we are right now. We’re going to try to simulate that as best we can in our indoor (facility).”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.