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Updated: April 27th, 2012 4:48pm
Notebook: Getting second chance, Chris Cook a regular at workouts

Notebook: Getting second chance, Chris Cook a regular at workouts

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - A month after being acquitted of all charges that he assaulted his girlfriend last October, Chris Cook has returned to the Minnesota Vikings and is taking part in the team's offseason workouts.

Coach Leslie Frazier said the cornerback has been at Winter Park every day since the program started this past Monday and that things have been "relatively smooth" so far.

"The guys have been good," Frazier said Friday. "He's working right along with everybody. There haven't been any alarms at this point."

Cook, a second-round pick of the Vikings in 2010, was suspended by the team after being arrested and being charged with one count of domestic assault by strangulation and one count of third-degree assault.

Cook said he was acting in self defense and the jury found him not guilty on the charges.

The Vikings, meanwhile, lifted the suspension of Cook during last season but he never did return to the team, instead drawing a paycheck and eating up a roster spot.

Frazier said Friday that "barring some unforeseen situation," Cook will be expected to start at cornerback in 2012. It's likely he will take over on the right side, where Cedric Griffin had been the frequent starter in recent years.

Defensive backs coach Joe Woods is excited to have Cook as an option in the secondary.

"He's an extremely athletic player," Woods said. "It's unfortunate for him, the first year was the injuries and then this past year, he's lost some games, he's lost some experience. But he's a dynamic player. He's here. He's going to work hard. He's talking to the right people in the building. I'm excited to have him back."

Asked if there was any trouble with gaining a trust level back in Cook, Frazier said: "We've had extensive conversations and for him it's going to be an ongoing process of just indoctrinating himself back with his teammates, back with the coaches. But everybody is willing to give Chris an opportunity to show that he's deserving of this opportunity. So we'll see what happens."

Frazier does not know if it's going to be necessary to have Cook address the full team at some point. "It may be, but at this point I don't foresee it," Frazier said.

Fingers crossed

The Vikings are looking to add depth at linebacker in this weekend's draft, but all indications are Jasper Brinkley will get every opportunity to win the starting job at middle linebacker.

Brinkley, a fifth-round pick in 2009, missed last season after having hip surgery but now will be counted to replace E.J. Henderson.

"Knowledge-wise he's improved," Frazier said of Brinkley. "The tough part for us is how much time we had with him a year ago. That's the curveball. We only had maybe about a week and then he was gone.

"We're hoping that he has evolved athletically and we think he has. But he's been in rehab for the longest ... now he's healthy and doing everything. But we've got our fingers crossed that he's going to be able to get it done."

Part of the issue is that Brinkley's style of play has never seemed all that suited to play the middle linebacker in the Tampa-2 defense, where part of the responsibility is being able to drop into coverage.

Henderson remains a free agent but it appears unlikely he will return to Minnesota. "We'll see what happens," Frazier said. "We're hoping that Jasper can get it done for us, but we'll see what happens with E.J."

Quick hits

• Frazier said the only significant absences from the offseason program at this point are wide receivers Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins, defensive end Jared Allen and kicker Ryan Longwell. Harvin recently had shoulder surgery.

• The Vikings still have an offer out to free-agent safety Husain Abdullah but the veteran has yet to decide on his future. "He hasn't moved on it," Frazier said. "We've had an offer on the table for a while." Right now, the Vikings starting safeties would be Jamarca Sanford and first-round pick Harrison Smith.

• The Vikings will hold their rookie minicamp next weekend. The camp will include a few selected veterans. Matt Kalil and Smith, the Vikings' two first-round selections, don't have any college responsibilities that will keep them from the offseason camps.

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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