Notebook: Kyle Rudolph returns to practice, Chris Cook still sidelined
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph returned to the practice field on Monday at Winter Park after passing all the tests for the concussion symptoms he experienced after taking a hit in Friday's preseason victory over Buffalo, but cornerback Chris Cook remained a spectator because of the same issue.
Both players were shaken up in the second quarter.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Cook remains under observation and has yet to clear the battery of tests that a player must pass to get back on the field. He will undergo more testing Tuesday.
"(We'll) just have to wait and see," Frazier said. "You'd like for him to be out here practicing and working and improving, but until he gets cleared you just have to wait and see."
The Vikings will play their third preseason game on Friday against San Diego at the Metrodome.
Frazier said a decision on whether Rudolph will play will come after seeing how he does the rest of the week in practice.
Nose tackle Letroy Guion, who suffered a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee early in the Vikings' preseason opener at San Francisco, was on the field Monday and had a brace on his knee.
Frazier has expressed confidence that Guion will be able to play Friday. "We'll see how he continues to improve," Frazier said.
The news is not as good for tight end John Carlson. Carlson (knee) remains sidelined and Frazier said he doesn't expect him to play Friday. "We'll hopefully get him to practice some next week but he's not going to make it for this ballgame," Frazier said.
There has been plenty made about the fact that quarterback Christian Ponder has been told to slide headfirst by offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave at the end of his rushing attempts this season.
Ponder was first asked about this after he led with his helmet following a 3-yard scramble Friday that set up a Vikings touchdown.
On Monday, Ponder said his decision making will be an "in the moment thing, where it's kind of a split-(second) decision where you decide to go headfirst or feet first."
"I've done both," Ponder said. "I don't know. We are kind of working on going headfirst. But it's kind of in the moment we'll see what happens."
Asked about the concerns of a head-to-head collision that could result in a concussion, Ponder smiled and said: "Yeah, especially since you're all writing all these stories, these guys are going to be teeing up against me."
Ponder then elaborated on the subject.
"I don't know," he said. "You kind of have a feel for ... it all comes back down to timing. You've got to have enough room where you can get down safely.
"Obviously, you don't want to get too close to those guys otherwise they are going to hit you. I know I have a target on my back and they are going to try to take as many licks as possible. I'm not too worried about it. I think you almost try to give them your back more so than your helmet. I don't know. Who knows? I'm sure I'll get popped pretty good at one point."
If Cook can't play Friday that could create an opportunity for rookie Josh Robinson to get reps as the No. 3 cornerback in the nickel defense.
Robinson, a third-round pick by the Vikings, entered last Friday's game at right cornerback in the second quarter and ended consecutive Bills drives -- breaking up a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass for Derek Hagan on third-and-15 and later tackling Hagan short of the sticks on fourth-and-3.
Robinson also made a hit on Bills receiver Donald Jones, who was stripped by Cook on the play. "I think I did a good job," Robinson said. "There are some things that I need to correct as far as coverage and technique-wise. I'll make those corrections this week."
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams has been impressed enough by Robinson's performance that he did not discount the possibility that he could start at some point this season.
"He has a ton of talent, he can run, he's a physical player also," Williams said. "He showed that in last week's ballgame, so we look forward to getting him some more reps this week and seeing how fast we can bring him along.
"We want to make sure that we get him good reps against good competition to see what he does and how he fares."
Challenge to defense
Williams, entering his first season as the Vikings' coordinator, wants a few things from the defense that he did not see when he watched tape from last season.
Atop that list is a consistently aggressive style.
"We challenge all the guys to be aggressive," he said. "That's one thing we want to do. We want to play with great hustle and we want to be a physical defense. When offenses turn on the tape, we want them to say, 'Wow, you better buckle up. You better come to play hard because the Minnesota Vikings are going to play tough football.'"
Williams also wants to see more consistency.
"I've always said we're not too far off last year and it had nothing to do with talent, it just had to do with guys paying attention to detail, being in their run gaps and just executing the defense," Williams said. "If guys do that, we'll be a top 10 defense.
"We just have to make sure as a coaching staff we're in tune to making sure that guys are detailed about carrying out their assignments. That was the biggest difference with this last week (against Buffalo). Guys stayed in their gaps, we tackled well and pursued to the football."
Frazier said Sunday that he felt middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley "made tremendous leaps" in his performance from the preseason opener to the second exhibition.
Brinkley was sidelined last season because of a hip injury and missed time during the Vikings' offseason program because of a groin problem.
"I think Jasper is getting more comfortable with having to command the defense, making calls, making checks, getting people lined up," Williams said. "He is running extremely well, he played downhill a little bit better. We're looking to see if he can do that in more of a consistent basis this ballgame (on Friday) with more reps."
Williams disputed the notion that Brinkley might be playing tentatively, saying, "(He's) just playing more side-to-side than downhill. I wouldn't say tentative at all."
Wide receiver Devin Aromashodu has been the target of nine passes in the first two preseason games, including six on Friday against Buffalo, but he has yet to catch a ball. He had a drop vs. the Bills and made two other catches out of bounds.
"Devin has just had some bad luck here these first two games," Musgrave said. "We've tried to send the ball his way, and various factors have caused us to come up empty. So, we're going to keep going to that well. We can count on Devin. He knows what to do and he gives us his best every day. So, the worm will turn in that regard."
Or will it?
Aromashodu caught only 26 of 78 balls (33.3%) thrown his way last season -- the lowest percentage of any NFL receiver who played at least one-third of his team's offensive snaps.
Brandon Fusco played well against the Bills and appears to be the favorite to win the job at right guard, but Musgrave said no jobs have been locked up yet.
"Not to my knowledge," he said. "We talk about personnel each and every day, and we've not had that discussion about anything being locked up. He's done a nice job, and we're looking forward to more strides this week."
Fusco, a sixth-round pick by the Vikings in 2011, has gotten plenty of first-team work with Schwartz out following his surgery.
Musgrave liked the job Fusco did against Buffalo defensive tackle Kyle Williams. "He fought him and battled and he learned some lessons, took some licks, but he'll be better for it," Musgrave said.
• Musgrave said wide receiver Jerome Simpson won't get "maximum work," on Friday because the Vikings want to play the receivers who are going to be able to go in the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against Jacksonville. Simpson, who had three receptions for 43 yards against the Bills, has been suspended for the first three games of the regular season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Simpson said he plans to spend that time in Cincinnati and California working with his own trainers.
• The Vikings, who broke training camp in Mankato last week, transitioned to their in-season practice schedule on Monday. They still held a walk-through in the morning and the primary practice in the afternoon. "It was a little bit of an adjustment where we practiced more like we would if we had a 53-man roster," Frazier said. "It took us a minute to get adjusted to that."
• Fullback Matt Asiata, who was absent from Sunday's practice because of a death in his family, returned to practice Monday.
Tom Pelissero contributed