Last year's troubles behind him, Chris Cook 'excited' to get to camp
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MANKATO, Minn. - There were times last year when Chris Cook had doubts about whether he would ever play football again. So it comes as no surprise that the Minnesota Vikings cornerback was delighted to have the opportunity to report to training camp on Thursday.
"I'm more excited than I ever have been to come back to Mankato," Cook said.
Cook's off-the-field issues from a year ago have been well documented.
He was charged with two felonies -- one count of domestic assault by strangulation and one count of third-degree assault - after a fight with his then-girlfriend of 10 months last October. Cook said his actions came in self-defense when the confrontation turned physical.
Cook did not play in the final 10 games of the season - he was initially suspended, then reinstated but told to stay away from the team - and his case went to trial in March. He was acquitted of all charges.
"I definitely had doubts that I would even be playing football again," Cook said. "I'm just blessed to be in this position and very thankful for the position that I'm in and to be able to play football again."
Cook, 25, admitted that it was extremely difficult for him not to be around his teammates for much of last season. "That was one of the hardest things was not being able to get out on the field and being able to do what I love to do," he said.
The Vikings selected Cook in the second round of the 2010 draft with their top pick after they dealt their first-rounder to Detroit. Cook had an impressive training camp as a rookie but was limited to six games because of two knee injuries.
Cook's legal problems last year came after he was found not guilty in May 2011 of a misdemeanor charge of brandishing a gun during an argument with a neighbor that March in his hometown of Lynchburg, Va.
Cook, who has switched from No. 31 to No. 20, will have an excellent chance to win a starting spot in camp. It likely will be at the right corner position that had been Cedric Griffin's before knee injuries derailed his career.
Cook, who is 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, feels he has developed mentally as a player despite the lack of playing time in his first two seasons. He has worked closely with defensive backs coach Joe Woods.
"I talk to Joe a lot about the game, and I just try to learn a lot," he said. "Whether I'm on the field or off the field. ... I've always had a lot of confidence in myself and I've never been down on myself. I've always felt like I can play in the league with anybody that's on this level."
Tom Pelissero contributed