Notebook: Cole preparing for second start despite Henderson's return
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Through the Minnesota Vikings' recent string of arrests, one player benefiting is linebacker Audie Cole, who will start on Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
Linebacker Erin Henderson will play, but not start, after he missed three practices last week due to a 'personal matter' that Henderson and coach Leslie Frazier said is separate from his arrest on Nov. 19 for suspicion of DWI.
"Well, Audie [Cole] earned, from my perspective along with our coaches, the right to start [Sunday]," Frazier said. "As the week went on, I was saying to the coaches, 'The way he practiced, I'm really curious to see how he plays.' And then he went out and he performed very, very well. And we came back on Monday, looked at the tape and verified some of the things that we saw in the game. And you say, 'How do you just sit this guy down and not give him a chance to show if he can continue this?'"
"So we made the decision based on the way he performed, and we'll get a chance to see him play this Sunday and see how he does."
Cole, 24, will get his second career start after making a game-high 13 tackles on Sunday at the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings continued to send Cole after the quarterback following his opening-snap sack on Scott Tolzien.
Cole seemed to hide his hand better than other Vikings' defenders as he didn't lean into his blitz presnap like some linebackers tend to. His three hits on the quarterback and two tackles for losses both led the team.
"I was trying to look it off so they didn't know I was coming and it worked out perfectly. It opened right up and I just got a running start at him," Cole said. "That play couldn't have worked out any better...You've just got to get there as fast as you can."
Like other Vikings, Cole whiffed on a few tackles on Packers running back Eddie Lacy as they played 89 plays in nearly 35 game minutes. Cole's biggest issue, as he affirmed, was fighting his way around opposing offensive linemen. Before Sunday, all but a few snaps of his regular season experience came in special teams.
"Obviously everything is faster. I haven't really been doing anything - well, playing much defense - for a while now so everything had to adjust," Cole said. "Guys are faster, guys are stronger and things like that."
The Union-Tribune in San Diego compiled a list of NFL arrests since 2000 and categorized them throughout various ways.
The database has not been updated since this summer, but at the time, the Vikings were tied with the Cincinnati Bengals for most arrests (40) since 2000.
However, Bengals cornerback Adam Jones has the team's only arrest since this summer when he was tagged with disorderly conduct in September.
Following linebacker Erin Henderson's arrest for suspicion of DWI on Nov. 19, the Vikings now have three arrests in the past three weeks, which puts their tally at 43 since 2000, per the U-T in San Diego.
Going off of U-T's research, that means the Vikings are the most arrested team in the NFL since 2000. Cornerback Chris Cook, receiver Jerome Simpson, fullback Jerome Felton, defensive end Everson Griffen, running back Adrian Peterson and Henderson are the only six current players who have been arrested while on the team. Cook was acquitted of his charges, while Peterson's were dropped.
NFC Special Teams Player of the Week
Kicker Blair Walsh earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for converting 4-of-4 on his field goal attempts as well as five touchbacks - a season high.
Walsh's 35-yard field goal with less than four minutes left in overtime forced the 26-26 tie.
After a rookie Pro Bowl year, Walsh is 19-for-21 on his field goal attempts and 29-for-30 on extra points. He's the second Vikings player to receive the honor after rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson earned the award following the team's first matchup with the Packers in October.
• Rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes and receiver Joe Webb both passed the baseline testing of their concussion protocols and will need to pass the physical exertion portion without exhibiting symptoms before they can return to the practice field. Both were working on conditioning alongside Wednesday's practice.
• Running back Adrian Peterson (groin) was the only day-to-day injury missing from the portion of practice open to the media.
• Safety Harrison Smith was originally scheduled to practice on Wednesday for the first time since his foot injury on Oct. 13. But, per injured reserve policy, he will not be allowed to practice until Friday. If all goes as planned, Smith will return for the Dec. 15 tilt against the Philadelphia Eagles.