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Updated: October 29th, 2012 2:55pm
Josh Robinson, A.J. Jefferson figure in Vikings' plans to replace Cook

Josh Robinson, A.J. Jefferson figure in Vikings' plans to replace Cook

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said on Monday his staff will take the week to decide exactly how to divide work at cornerback after the loss of Chris Cook.

One thing seems certain: barring a free-agent addition or a trade before Thursday's deadline, some young players will have to play expanded roles.

Rookie third-round draft pick Josh Robinson is the likely starter in Cook's place at right cornerback, with A.J. Jefferson coming on to bump veteran Antoine Winfield inside in the nickel package and Marcus Sherels working the other slot in dime.

"I think they're going to try to rotate guys a little bit, see what are the best options they have," Jefferson said. "So, we'll see how it goes during the week."

Secondary depth was an issue the Vikings tried to shore up through several avenues in the offseason. They drafted three defensive backs, signed two veteran cornerbacks and traded an undisclosed draft pick to Arizona for Jefferson on cutdown day.

The veteran corners, Chris Carr and Zackary Bowman, didn't make the roster. But the Vikings have gotten plenty of mileage out of Robinson, 21, and Jefferson, 24, who is the closest physical match to Cook on the roster at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds.

"It won't change anything," Winfield said. "Just next guy needs to step up. Sherels will play a lot more. A.J. will play a lot more. So, the defensive coordinator, the coaches need to get them ready to play. That's pretty much it."

Cook had been ascending until he broke his right arm trying to make a tackle in Thursday's loss to Tampa Bay.

He already has undergone surgery, Frazier said on Monday, and will miss six to eight weeks -- most likely sidelining him for the remainder of the regular season.

"He was playing good football for us," Frazier said. "But in this business, we all know injuries occur and I think our depth is better than it has been in years past. I think we'll be able to hold up better than we have in the past, and it just gives other guys opportunities to step up and play more."

Jefferson, 24, mostly was used as a press-man corner with the Cardinals and admittedly underwent "a complete turnaround" to get comfortable in the Vikings' Tampa-2 scheme.

"But it's still football," he said. "I've been doing it a long time and it's never going to change."

His size could help him get more time, particularly in the Vikings' five remaining NFC North games against the likes of Detroit's Calvin Johnson, Green Bay's Jordy Nelson and Chicago's Brandon Marshall.

"Me and Chris, we emulate each other," Jefferson said. "I'm more of a physical guy. I want to be at the line anyway. I'm a lot bigger than a lot of other corners out here. I'd much rather get my hands on them."

With Cook on injured reserve with designation to return, the Vikings had an extra spot on the 53-man roster they hadn't filled as of Monday afternoon.

It was unclear whether the Vikings would fill that spot with another cornerback -- they have one, rookie Bobby Felder, on the practice squad -- or perhaps promote tight end Allen Reisner if John Carlson's concussion keeps him out another week.

Either way, Cook is facing another extended absence. He played in only six games in 2010 because of two knee surgeries, then missed the final 10 games last season following an arrest on domestic assault charges of which he was later acquitted.

"That's tough. (Cook)'s been working hard," Winfield said. "It's unfortunate what happened to him. But it's a rough game. You guys are always talking about players being injury-prone -- hell, every time you're out there, you're one play away from getting hurt."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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