Notebook: Audie Cole proves he's a competent fill-in, if not more
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GREEN BAY, Wis. - Minnesota Vikings linebacker Audie Cole didn't have time to count how many stitches protruded from his forehead after Sunday's 26-26 tie at the Green Bay Packers.
Cole didn't know how many tackles he missed in his first career start either - but what mattered to him was that he missed some.
"That's how I base myself on," Cole said. "You can make 20 tackles, but if you miss five - that could've been 25. That's five times they got more yards than they should've got. I missed a few tackles and I know [Eddie] Lacy did a good job and that hurt us."
Cole ended up leading all defenders with 13 combined tackles, including one of the Vikings' two sacks on the day. As linebacker Erin Henderson (personal) was inactive for the first time, Cole stepped in without much of a dropoff, if any, in production.
Cole, 24, grabbed his first career sack on the first play as defensive coordinator Alan Williams sent him after the quarterback a few times on Sunday.
"I didn't know it was going to be the first play of the game," Cole said. "But I wasn't mad about it."
Alongside veteran linebacker Chad Greenway, Cole remained in the Vikings' often-used nickel packages and relayed plays through a headset in his helmet throughout the game. Cole grabbed a few pointers from Greenway along the way, but for the most part made a fluid transition into the starting role.
It's unknown how long Henderson will be out for, or the nature of his personal matter, but Cole proved to be a competent fill-in, if not a potential full-time starter down the road.
"Just seeing how active [Cole] was, how much in control he was of our defense, the way he orchestrated things throughout the day," Frazier said. "He had a great week of practice in how he prepared and his performance helped our defense. Our defense did a lot of good things today and I think Audie had a lot to do with that."
Gerhart to the rescue
Running back Adrian Peterson notched his season high with 146 rushing yards on 32 attempts on Sunday, but cohort Toby Gerhart directly helped the Vikings score their only six points of the fourth quarter and overtime.
Gerhart's 91 yards all came on drives that led to Blair Walsh field goals for the 23-7 lead and ultimately the 26-26 tie in overtime.
"It worked out today. Adrian [Peterson] got banged up on a play and I was able to come in and get into a little grove," Gerhart said. "We started going back and forth a little bit and it felt good."
Gerhart, 26, is in the final year of his rookie contract and is an unrestricted free agent after this season. Performances like Sunday's certainly help his cause to earn his first big-time contract.
In the last two games, Gerhart has notched 158 yards on just 15 carries.
"Toby comes in, Adrian got a little fatigued, and [Gerhart] did a great job," Frazier said. "He does a great job every time he gets in the ball game. It was good for our defense, the fact they can get some rest on the sideline as our offense controlled the clock with our run game."
The Vikings' season-high 232 rushing yards helped translate to a 40:33-to-34:27 time of possession advantage.
Jennings' return to Lambeau Field
The loudest boos former Packers receiver Greg Jennings received on Lambeau Field, in which he called home for seven seasons, came on a 21-yard completion for a first down to set the Vikings up in the redzone.
Two plays later, quarterback Christian Ponder found tight end Rhett Ellison for a 12-yard touchdown pass as Jennings finished with two catches for 29 yards on three targets.
"It was great to play back here at Lambeau," Jennings said. "I really wasn't looking for any type of reception. I came here with my teammates in this locker room and that is all the reception I need."
Jennings falls to 0-1-1 against his former team this season after jumping the border this offseason as a free agent. The one incompletion his away appeared to be a drop on 3rd-and-5, which forced the Vikings' three-and-out in overtime.
"[Jennings] put himself in position. I think we had one earlier where we went to him, in third down situation and he made," Frazier said. "I think his mindset was where it needed to be, we just couldn't come up with that play at that time."