Notebook: Chris Cook expected back Sunday but playing time uncertain
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Chris Cook is expected to return from a broken right arm on Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings face Houston at Reliant Stadium, but it remains uncertain how many snaps the cornerback will play.
Leslie Frazier said Thursday that the Vikings coaching staff would sit down after Friday's practice to discuss activating Cook from the NFL's injured reserve list that includes the designation to return. Cook was hurt in the Vikings' loss to Tampa Bay on Oct. 25.
"He's made a lot of progress from last week to this week so we'll see how he does (Friday)," Frazier said. "It looks like he's headed in the right direction, just a matter of how much can we play him?"
There is a possibility the Vikings could start Antoine Winfield and A.J. Jefferson or Josh Robinson at the corner spots and bring in Cook in nickel situations. If that was the case, Winfield would slide inside when the extra corner came on the field.
Cook started the first eight games of the season before getting hurt.
"We expect him to play," defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. "How much he'll play, I'm not quite sure. I'm not sure if he's ready for 60 to 70 reps yet. But I know he's ready for at least 20 (to) 30 so we'll kind of see at the end of the week, talk to Coach Frazier and see where Cook is. He'll be playing. I'm just not quite sure how much."
The Vikings will have to make a roster move to activate Cook to the 53-man roster and that could come either Friday or Saturday.
Robison likely to sit
The Vikings aren't nearly as confident that left defensive end Brian Robison will play at Houston after suffering a Grade 3 sprain of the AC joint in his right shoulder last Sunday in St. Louis.
Robison did not practice for a second consecutive day on Thursday and Frazier isn't sure the veteran will be able to do any work on Friday. If Robison misses another practice, it's unlikely he will be active.
"We'd have to see him do something (before the game) just because of the nature of the injury and the position that he plays," Frazier said. "It's possible (that could happen). We'll see where he is (Friday)."
Also missing practice Friday were left tackle Matt Kalil (illness) and running back Adrian Peterson (abdomen, groin). Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher, is mainly sitting out to get rest. Both Kalil and Peterson are virtual locks to play on Sunday.
While the Vikings assigned cornerback Asher Allen to follow the opposing teams' top wide receiver in select games last season, Williams has stayed away from matching up any of his corners against particular receivers this year.
That doesn't figure to change on Sunday when the Vikings face Houston's Andre Johnson, who is sixth in the NFL with 93 catches for 1,360 yards and four touchdowns. There has been some thought that the Vikings might want to match Cook (6-2, 212 pounds) against Johnson (6-3, 230).
"I think guys probably do best when they are locked into the techniques that they are playing," said Williams, who is in his first season as the Vikings' defensive coordinator. "They are used to going one-on-one on one side.
"They are used to maybe re-routing and playing the side. I'm usually more concerned with what we do and making sure that we take care of ourselves rather than shortchanging ourselves based on what another team is doing and what their strengths are."
A different approach?
Although rookie kicker Blair Walsh is third in the NFL this season with 47 touchbacks, Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer admits he is tempted at times to have Walsh go for hang time on his kicks and allow returns because the Vikings have been good about not letting opponents even get to the 20-yard line.
"That's kind of my ego kicking in," Priefer said. "I think what's best for the team a lot of times is the touchback, depending on who is out there. We had a couple of injuries last week so we had some subs who went in there and did a great job.
"Jerome Felton did a great job; Matt Asiata had a tackle on the one inside the 20. It depends on the time of the game and what the score is. Touchbacks are OK, but I love the way our guys are covering (kicks)."
Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo attended the Vikings' practice on Thursday. The two have plenty of time on their hands because of the NHL lockout. The league cancelled games through Jan. 14 on Thursday.
Cornerback Antoine Winfield (knee) was among five Vikings listed as limited in Thursday's practice but that is nothing new for the veteran. Winfield has been rested in recent weeks to keep him fresh. Defensive end Jared Allen (shoulder), punter Chris Kluwe (left knee, right groin), right tackle Phil Loadholt (knee) and safety Mistral Raymond (ankle) also were limited for the second day in a row. Defensive end Everson Griffen (elbow) and cornerback Marcus Sherels (quadriceps, elbow) were on the injury report but did not miss any practice time.
Cornerback Alan Ball (foot) did not practice for the second consecutive day for the Texans. Nine players were limited for Houston, including nose tackle Shaun Cody (back); linebackers Tim Dobbins (shoulder, thumb), Brooks Reed (groin) and Darryl Sharpton (toe); cornerback Johnathan Joseph (groin); tackle Derek Newton (knee); safety Glover Quin (hip); defensive end Antonio Smith (ankle); and guard Wade Smith (knee, ribs).
Peterson, Allen and Kalil all were at the top of their respective positions among NFC players as the fan voting for the Pro Bowl ended. The fan vote makes up one-third of the process with the players and coaches votes also factored into the process that goes toward determining the 43-man rosters that represent the NFC and AFC in the Pro Bowl. NFL players and coaches will cast their votes Dec. 20-21. The teams will be announced on Dec. 26 and the game will be played on Jan. 27 in Honolulu.