Chris Cook, Vikings D focused on 'calculated risks' to force turnovers
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MANKATO, Minn. -- As Minnesota Vikings' players rushed out of the Myers Field House in Mankato after Wednesday's walkthrough, cornerback Chris Cook and the secondary stayed 10 minutes after to continue working on techniques before the afternoon practice.
Cook, who has gone without an interception in his first three NFL seasons, said he and his teammates have also concocted some celebrations if he gets his first.
"We have a few celebrations that we've been working on," Cook said. "Hopefully we get a chance to pull them out."
As a team, the Vikings' defense finished 22nd in the league in turnovers (10 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries) and three of those interceptions left with veteran Antoine Winfield's exit this offseason.
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said the importance of defensive turnovers isn't his concern alone, but a constant reminder from coach Leslie Frazier.
"Coach Frazier put up a stat the other day, he said when the defense turns the ball over and scores, you have a 75 percent chance of winning that ball game," Williams said. "Not just turning the ball over, but scoring with it."
The Vikings' four defensive touchdowns last season, two from rookie safety Harrison Smith, helped to counter quarterback Christian Ponder's rocky play at midseason, but Williams said he needs more from his young secondary.
"We stress that all the time," Williams said. "We're going to hustle, we're going to run to the ball so when there is a tipped ball, when there is a ball on the ground, that we have more purple jerseys around that ball than anyone else. It's a priority in our camp and it will going into the season."
Cook broke his right arm in a loss against Tampa Bay, spent six weeks on injured reserve before coming back and holding Houston Texans' receiver Andre Johnson under 100 yards in a 23-6 win.
Williams said Cook and other members of the secondary need to work on taking "calculated risks, instead of chances," in order for the Vikings to convert more interceptions.
"I worked on my footwork a lot, standing square on my back pedal a lot more," Cook said. "I worked on my hand placement too in the offseason. Those are two big areas I felt like I could improve."