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Updated: December 12th, 2012 3:58pm
Notebook: Cornerback Chris Cook nearing return from broken arm

Notebook: Cornerback Chris Cook nearing return from broken arm

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook is scheduled to visit with doctors on Thursday and, if all goes well, could be cleared to return to game action.

Cook broke his right arm on Oct. 26 against Tampa Bay and was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return. The designation, which is new this season and can be used for one player per team, meant Cook had to sit out six weeks of practice. He can be activated to play in games after eight weeks.

Cook began practicing last week and is eligible to return on Dec. 23 when the Vikings play at Houston. He was listed as being limited in Wednesday's practice.

"That's still the goal," Cook said when asked about him being back on the field as the starting right corner against the Texans.

Cornerback A.J. Jefferson, who has been starting in place of Cook, suffered a concussion on Sunday and did not practice Wednesday. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Jefferson is "getting closer" to being cleared to return and that the Vikings would know more about his status on Thursday.

If Jefferson can't go this Sunday at St. Louis, rookie Josh Robinson would start at the right corner and Marcus Sherels would have to play in the nickel defense.

If Jefferson ends up being lost for a couple of games, Cook's return on Dec. 23 could be very important because it would enable Robinson to return to playing in the nickel.

Cook started the first eight games of the season for the Vikings and said he doesn't feel he will be too rusty upon his return.

"It's not like I took every day off and I wasn't doing football-oriented stuff," he said. "But game speed and practice speed and just doing movements is a little different. Knocking a little game rust off, it may happen in the first few plays of the game. But I feel like I've been doing this for so long it's kind of second nature now."

Cook confirmed that when he does return he expects he will wear some type of light weight cast on his arm for protection.

Winfield sits, Peterson limited

Cornerback Antoine Winfield was held out of Wednesday's practice in part to get the veteran some rest and also because of a sore knee.

Running back Adrian Peterson was limited because of an issue with his abdomen.

Also limited were linebacker Jasper Brinkley (shoulder), Cook (arm), guard Charlie Johnson (ankle), tackle Phil Loadholt (knee) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (shoulder).

Defensive end Jared Allen (shoulder), safety Robert Blanton (neck), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (shin) and punter Chris Kluwe (left knee, right groin), were full participants in the practice.

Peterson's workload

Peterson rushed for 154 yards with two touchdowns on a career-high 31 carries in the Vikings' 21-14 victory Sunday over the Bears.

That means the running back, who leads the NFL in rushing and is coming off reconstructive surgery on his left knee last winter, is past the point where there is significant concern about the workload he carries.

"We're still paying attention, but it's not to the point where we say, 'When we get to this point, we're going to shut him down,'" Frazier said. "We're not at that point now. But we are conscious each quarter (of), 'How many carries does he have?'

"We have a number we want to try to get him to by the end of every game which we think will help us be successful. But it's not to the point where we say, 'When you get to this number, we're going to make sure Toby (Gerhart's) in the game.'"

Peterson, meanwhile, was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Bears. That marked Peterson's seventh consecutive 100-yard game, the longest streak in team history.

Peterson has rushed for 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, while averaging 6.04 yards per carry.

He joins Jim Brown (1963) and O.J. Simpson (1973) as the only players in NFL history to rush for at least 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 6-plus yards per carry in his team's first 13 games.

Keeping their focus

The Vikings are in a position few expected them to be with three games left in the season.

Actually competing for a playoff spot in the NFC.

The Vikings, Dallas and Washington are all 7-6, sitting a game behind Chicago. The Bears currently hold the sixth and final playoff spot.

The Redskins hold the tie-breaker over the Vikings and Cowboys. Dallas is above the Vikings based on having a better winning percentage in common games.

Given where the Vikings stand, Frazier knows he must keep his team focused on the next game because looking ahead could prove fatal to the team's postseason chances.

"The most important thing for us is concentrating on St. Louis," Frazier said. "We've got to win this game and if we don't win this game it just puts us in peril. So I tried to bring the focus to that without ignoring the fact that we're in a playoff race. Every game for us at this point in the season is like a playoff game and no game is bigger than this St. Louis game."

Simple explanation

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder threw an interception at the end of the first half on Sunday against Chicago when his pass for wide receiver Jarius Wright came up short of the intended target.

Ponder acknowledged that next time he needs to air that pass out and trust that the receiver can go get it.

"The guy was open and I didn't get enough on the ball," Ponder said. "Jarius is a fast guy and I kind of threw off my back foot. It wasn't a mistake to throw the ball. The decision was fine. I've just got to throw the ball farther and let him run out and get it. That was unfortunate. It could have been a touchdown."

Instead, the pass was picked off by safety Major Wright at the Bears' 20-yard line.

Logical move

Troy Kropog received a one-year deal with a base salary of $540,000 when he was promoted from the Vikings practice squad last Friday. That means he stands to earn about $127,000 if he's on the 53-man roster for the rest of the season.

Frazier indicated that Kropog was promoted to replace wide receiver Percy Harvin on the roster because he had another offer from an NFL team that would have put him on its 53-man roster.

"He's done a good job in practice and that position, when you talk about the offensive line, it's very tough to find guys sometimes," Frazier said. "The fact that he's played so well and done so well in practice, we didn't want to lose him. So it was a chance for us to elevate him. He's earned it through the way he's worked."

Asked if another team tried to sign Kropog, Frazier simply said: "He's a Minnesota Viking."

The Vikings are now $8.05 million under their adjusted salary cap for 2012.

Quick hits

Jefferson was used on kickoff returns last Sunday, but Frazier confirmed Sherels will return to that role against the Rams. Sherels has averaged 24.4 yards on nine kick returns this season.

The Rams' injury report included six players who did not practice: safety Craig Dahl (head); cornerback Courtland Finnegan (ankle); linebacker James Laurinaitis (back); running back Steven Jackson (foot); tight end Mike McNeill (thigh); and center Scott Wells (knee). Wide receiver Danny Amendola (foot) was limited and linebacker Mario Haggan (elbow) did not miss any time.

Tom Pelissero contributed

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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