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Updated: October 15th, 2010 3:27pm
Notebook: Chris Cook '80 percent' healthy, not optimistic about Sunday

Notebook: Chris Cook '80 percent' healthy, not optimistic about Sunday

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Chris Cook got some turns with the Minnesota Vikings' starting defense on Friday, but the rookie cornerback said he's only about 80% healthy and didn't sound particularly optimistic about his chance for playing on Sunday.

Cook had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee last week, little more than a month after he underwent a similar procedure on his right knee that cost him three games.

He said his workload on Friday "wasn't a starter's day at practice" as he split reps on the scout team and on special teams.

"I felt pretty good," said Cook, who had surgery early last week to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

"Didn't have any pain. My feet felt good. My brace felt good. It's just waiting on the green light still."

The Vikings are in rough shape at cornerback after starter Cedric Griffin blew out a knee in Monday's loss to the New York Jets. They signed veteran Frank Walker off the street on Wednesday and probably would activate him for Sunday's game against Dallas unless Cook progresses substantially in the next 48 hours.

Asher Allen -- who started the first two games when Cook and Griffin were out -- most likely will start at right cornerback on Sunday, with Lito Sheppard rotating in for nickel situations.

Allen, Sheppard and starter Antoine Winfield all are 5-10 or shorter, creating size mismatches when the Cowboys deploy receivers Miles Austin (6-2, 215 pounds), Roy Williams (6-3, 215) and rookie Dez Bryant (6-2, 217). The trio has combined for 66 receptions for 932 yards (14.1 average) and five touchdowns; Bryant is questionable for Sunday with rib and ankle injuries.

"You've just got to harass 'em," Allen said.

Tough times

Griffin still hasn't been seen in the locker room since Monday night, but teammates have spoken with him. Cook's locker is next to Griffin's, and the two became tight soon after the Vikings drafted Cook in April.

"I pray for him a lot since it happened," Cook said of Griffin, who was coming off reconstruction of his other knee in January.

"He's a good friend. I can only imagine what his mind is going through and all the emotions that are running through his body right now. I probably couldn't put up with it too well."

Health watch

Center John Sullivan (calf) appears to have even less chance to play on Sunday, despite taking part in practice on a limited basis Thursday and Friday.

"Sully's probably still got some time to go here," coach Brad Childress said. "Another 48 hours. But he's doing a little bit more, did a little bit more (Friday)."

If Sullivan can't go, second-year pro Jon Cooper is expected to make his first NFL start.

Cook, Sullivan and quarterback Brett Favre all were listed as limited participants in Friday's practice and questionable on the injury report.

Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring), end Brian Robison (ankle) and safety Madieu Williams (shoulder) all moved to full participation and were listed as probable. Safety Jamarca Sanford (back) remained limited but also is probable.

Rice returns, sort of

Sidney Rice appeared on the practice field for the first time since having hip surgery in August, playing light catch with team employees -- and keeping his movements minimal.

At one point, Randy Moss called out to Rice, who grinned and walk through the team's stretch lines to joke with his fellow receivers.

"He tried to get me to come out there," Rice said. "He told me I needed to come out there and get some of the reps for him. I wish I could, but not right now."

Rice got off crutches on Tuesday and won't be ready when he becomes eligible to return to the 53-man roster next week. Asked if he'd return at the season's midway point, Childress said, "Yeah, about. Give or take a couple weeks."

Quick hits

• On Wednesday, Childress said his experience is that the more desperate team wins matchups such as Sunday's game, which will drop one team to 1-4. Did practice show that players got the message? "These are all grown, rational human beings," Childress said. "They're pretty good with one step back themselves, all of them. So, yeah, they get it."

• Moss is up to speed on the 2-minute drill, Childress said, and stands to play a bigger role in his second game since arriving in a trade with New England. "I think he's progressed," Childress said. "We're not as much think, think, think, think, think. There's some thinking, and those around him help him when he is thinking. But it was a whirlwind last week. It was hard to get up to speed and get the plays that he was really comfortable with. But he'll do more this week, and he'll do more and more as we go."

• Childress joked when asked a question about officials' decision to continue Monday's game in spite of lightning in the immediate vicinity. "What would you be writing about if I was standing here writing like this?" he said, looking at the sky. "The guy's lost it. He's in a quandary. He's having a break with reality. Yeah, they've got a protocol. I'm sure it's the manual somewhere for them."

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.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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