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Updated: August 1st, 2010 6:46pm
Notebook: Chris Cook flashes ability, intercepts 3 passes in practice

Notebook: Chris Cook flashes ability, intercepts 3 passes in practice

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MANKATO, Minn. -- It only took Chris Cook three days to make his first big impression of training camp.

The Minnesota Vikings' top draft pick on Sunday had three interceptions in competitive drills and could have had a fourth if the sun weren't in his eyes on a hot afternoon at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Extremely long for a cornerback at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, Cook repeatedly used his size to his advantage as the Vikings mostly installed and worked red-zone situations.

He got his first interception on a post for Ray Small, made an athletic play on a corner route against Marquis Hamilton for No. 2 and then took away a pass from Taye Biddle on a go route up the sideline.

Cook also broke up a slant for Bernard Berrian and had perfect coverage on a fade for Hamilton, who might not have been able to knock the ball away if Cook had seen it sooner.

"A lot of the time they say defensive backs are wide receivers that couldn't catch," Childres said. "(Cook) can catch, which is important because those are turnovers going the other way. You are seeing the length show up with his size, his reach and for being a tall guy he's got a pretty good drive. I think he'll continue to keep on developing."

A second-round pick (34th overall) who fell behind by missing all of minicamp with a hamstring injury, Cook primarily had worked with the third-string defense over the first two days of training camp. But he moved up with the twos on Sunday with Benny Sapp sitting out and the Vikings playing a lot of nickel.

One question the Vikings have about Cook is his willingness to hit. They'll get their first look at that on Tuesday morning, when Childress has scheduled the first fully padded, "live" tackling session of camp.

Pick parade

Two of Cook's interceptions came off veteran backup Sage Rosenfels, who nearly threw a third (linebacker Heath Farwell dropped it) and finished 7-for-15 passing in competitive drills a day after throwing four picks in the night practice.

Rookie quarterback Joe Webb was even worse, finishing 0-for-8 with two interceptions -- one by Cook and one off the hands of Small by safety Husain Abdullah, who is tied for the camp lead with three.

Asked specifically if Rosenfels is struggling, Childress called it "a double-edged sword," because coaches ask the quarterbacks to be aggressive -- testing themselves and their receivers.

"Now, do you want them to take care of the ball, with all that said? Yeah," Childress said. "I don't want them to nurse it around. I don't want them to be check-down guys. ... I'd like to see the interceptions come back."

In team (11-on-11) drills on Sunday, Tarvaris Jackson finished 7-for-16, Rosenfels 3-for-9 and Webb 0-for-5.

Up for grabs?

Second-year pro Jamarca Sanford got all the work at strong safety with the No. 1 defense on Sunday, continuing his practice-by-practice (and sometimes series-by-series) rotation with incumbent starter Tyrell Johnson.

But Childress wouldn't declare the position wide open and noted Sanford can play free safety, too, although Madieu Williams has gotten all the reps there in camp.

"It should be competitive -- it's a competitive position," Childress said. "(Sanford) is getting snaps, yeah, and he's doing good things with them. I think it'll play itself out when we start tackling people to the ground."

Roll call

Receiver Percy Harvin was absent from practice after a death in his family, according to Childress.

Harvin -- who practiced Saturday night after tweaking an ankle in the morning session -- remained in Mankato as of Sunday afternoon but might leave at some point, Childress said.

Center John Sullivan didn't practice a day after he apparently got kicked in the back of his right calf, which was covered by a sleeve as he watched on Sunday.

Childress said he wasn't sure how long Sullivan would miss but was hopeful it's just a cramp. Jon Cooper worked in Sullivan's place with the starters.

Receiver Sidney Rice (hip) and cornerback Cedric Griffin (knee) remain on the active/physically unable to perform list and once again worked out on an adjacent field during practice.

With Rice and Harvin both out, the Vikings' three-wide set to open team drills included Bernard Berrian, Greg Lewis and Taye Biddle.

Childress didn't reveal the reason for Sapp's absence but indicated he'll be OK "in a couple days."

Quick hits

• Childress indicated there's been no decision yet on whether to keep strong-legged ex-Gopher Rhys Lloyd as a kickoff specialist, taking those duties away from PK Ryan Longwell. "I think we'll see when we start to kick the ball in the preseason, see what kind of weapon we think it is," Childress said.

• Slowly seeing more action in his return from a fractured femur, MLB E.J. Henderson went down on the final play of a 7-on-7 passing drill in a rather nasty collision with rookie SS Terrell Skinner. But Henderson bounced up almost immediately and got a warm welcome to the sideline.

• WRs Logan Payne and Lewis both had exceptional catches under tight coverage in the same corner of the end zone in competitive drills. Payne fully extended to pull in Rosenfels' pass against CB Marcus Sherels, and Lewis caught a fade over CB Antoine Winfield.

• The Vikings were scheduled to practice at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday, kicking off a stretch of six consecutive two-a-day workouts. The afternoon sessions on Wednesday and Friday are special teams only.

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.
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