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Updated: August 18th, 2012 2:12pm
Making an impression: Rookie Audie Cole has a quarter to remember

Making an impression: Rookie Audie Cole has a quarter to remember

by Judd Zulgad
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Minnesota Vikings rookie linebacker Audie Cole intercepted Tyler Thigpen's pass at the Buffalo Bills' 20-yard line late in the fourth quarter on Friday night and then began to weave his way toward the end zone.

This was not met by universal approval on the Vikings bench.

"Everyone on the sideline was saying I should of ran it straight in, but I don't know, I guess I just didn't know (what I should do)," Cole said. "I don't touch the ball usually, so I just tried to make some moves out there."

Everything worked out just fine for the first of the Vikings' two seventh-round picks last April.

Cole, taken with the 210th selection, stretched for the end zone at the last minute as he was being taken to the ground and officials ruled it a touchdown. The play was reviewed and the call was upheld.

Cole, though, had learned his lesson and he quickly put his newfound nose for the end zone to good use.

The Bills began their next drive at their own 26-yard line with Brad Smith at quarterback. Smith dropped back on his first play and looked for Naaman Roosevelt - the same receiver that was the intended target of Thigpen's pass only 13 seconds earlier.

Cole not only picked off the pass at the Bills 30, but he took a far more direct path to the end zone for the final points in the Vikings' 36-14 preseason victory.

"I think he ran an out route, and I just undercut it, and (Smith) threw the ball right to me," said Cole, who had a sack in the Vikings' preseason opener at San Francisco. "I guess I was fortunate."

Cole finished his career at North Carolina State ranked 12th in school history with 328 tackles and he led the team in tackles in his final three seasons. He started every game at middle linebacker last year after moving to that spot.

In four collegiate seasons, Cole had only one interception. So how many picks had he returned for touchdowns in his years of playing football?

"Counting today?" Cole asked. "Two."

That response drew plenty of laughter but Cole knows his opportunity to make the Vikings' 53-man roster is no joking matter. He entered Friday's game behind Jasper Brinkley and Tyrone McKenzie on the depth chart.

Scoring two touchdowns certainly had to open some eyes.

"It's what you sit the night before (a game) and think about doing stuff like that," Cole said. "I am just trying to make the team, and I hope that (tonight's performance) helps my cause."

Coach Leslie Frazier agreed.

"To see Audie do what he did, that's a big deal," Frazier said. "You could see all the jubiliation from his teammates. Everybody on the team was with him in the end zone on that second one. It's pretty impressive. We're excited for him. He seems to be one of those guys who may be someone who has a knack for the big play."

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd