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Updated: September 27th, 2010 4:20pm
Notebook: Ryan Cook draws good reviews for fill-in work at center

Notebook: Ryan Cook draws good reviews for fill-in work at center

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Ryan Cook earned a passing grade on his first real test as the Minnesota Vikings' offensive-line utility man.

Center John Sullivan's calf injury on the Vikings' first play pressed Cook into action at a position he had played sparingly since seeing some action early in the preseason.

And despite getting beat on his first snap and later drawing two penalties, Cook received positive reviews for his short-notice appearance in the Vikings' 24-10 win over Detroit.

"He really did a great job," coach Brad Childress said after reviewing the tape on Monday.

"You didn't see any downturn on anything. He had the one (clipping) penalty, which was a pretty good effort play by him on that. ... He didn't snap the ball right on the right snap count (causing a false start). But you didn't see any physical shortcomings by him at all in there in terms of playing the offensive line."

A second-round draft pick (51st overall) in 2006 who mostly played right tackle over his first four NFL seasons, Cook became the jack-of-all-trades backup when Artis Hicks left the Vikings in free agency.

But his workload at center had been particularly limited because the No. 2 man on the depth chat is Jon Cooper, who was deactivated for the first time on Sunday in favor of rookie Chris DeGeare.

"I think I learned a lot from Artis last year, being able to see him come in and fill those positions adequately and not really have a drop-off," Cook said. "I think there was a valuable lesson to be learned, and I tried to take as much from him as I could."

That includes getting enough from mental reps to survive in a situation like the one he faced Sunday -- thrust into action on the opening series at center, where Cook said he got "a few spot reps on Friday but nothing of major significance" since the regular season began.

Corey Williams powered past him to stop running back Adrian Peterson for a 2-yard loss on Cook's first play, but after that, Cook held his own.

"You've got to give two thumbs up to Ryan Cook ... for coming out and taking over that center position without really getting too many snaps during the week at that position," said running back Adrian Peterson, who got a key block from Cook on his 80-yard touchdown run.

"He did a heck of a job sticking in there."

Said Cook, "Obviously, there's some things I still need to improve on. I went in there at the last second for Sully and filling in for him, I think I did overall a good job."

Health watch

Childress declined to provide any substantive updates on the injuries Sullivan and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) suffered on Sunday.

"They're in the building," Childress said. "I think they are going to live, both of them. And that's all they've got to do is live until next week when I have to give you an injury report."

Sullivan declined to talk about the injury on Sunday and wasn't seen in the locker room while it was open to reporters on Monday. Shiancoe made a brief appearance but didn't speak with the media.

In the nickel

Despite Ben Leber's productivity in pass coverage, Childress said he's not considering giving the veteran linebacker more snaps in the nickel defense in place of E.J. Henderson.

Leber had a key interception in the fourth quarter on Sunday, while Henderson was beaten for a 5-yard touchdown early by tight end Tony Scheffler.

"We've got a pretty good rotation going with those two guys right now," Childress said. "(Chad) Greenway stays on the field, and Leber and E.J. kind of spell each other every other series. The snaps are about where we want to see them."

Asked if he'd like to play more, Leber said, "Of course. I think every player would like to play more if your snaps are getting limited. But I'm just happy to go out there, and maybe there's some of those times I wouldn't make the play if I didn't have fresh legs. There's a rhyme and reason for everything, and I think what we have going right now is working pretty well."

Penalty problems

The Vikings racked up 12 penalties for 100 yards, but Childress said he couldn't find all of them on film.

Childress took specific issue with a holding call on receiver Hank Baskett that wiped out a 10-yard Percy Harvin run in the first quarter.

"Just the way we coach it," Childress said. "Wouldn't coach it any different. It's a great effort play to put that guy on his back. I thought he did a great job with that one."

Childress also said he had "a tough time finding fault" on punt-team blocks by Jasper Brinkley and Jamarca Sanford that officials deemed illegal, resulting in a net loss of 40 yards.

Lucky break

Childress praised punter Chris Kluwe for his hang time and four punts inside the 20 on Sunday.

But Childress also revealed one of the game's pivotal plays -- Stefan Logan's muff, which Greenway covered to set up the Vikings' first touchdown -- was a mistake that caught a lucky break.

"We didn't want the ball in the middle of the field," Childress said. "It was set up to go right, and us to cover it right, and here it comes in the middle, which can be a disaster. And he knew it as soon as he came off the field. We talked about it, but stranger things end up happening. Our guys made up for it."

Bye, bye

Players spent part of Monday afternoon meeting and watching film at the Vikings' Winter Park headquarters before going their separate ways for the bye week.

Players are scheduled to return to practice next Monday. They're tentatively scheduled to practice next Tuesday, too, meaning they'll have five practices instead of the usual three before their next game Oct. 11 against the New York Jets.

"I've always believed in the bye week you don't beat up players and you don't beat up the coaches," Childress said. "I know you can say, 'Jeez, could you refine? Could you get better?' We come back and practice on Monday and Tuesday of next week -- we've got some time built in there because we don't play until the following Monday. I think we can move it as much as it can move in that time."

Quarterback Brett Favre on Sunday said he planned to stay in town for a few days and get in extra film work.

Quick hits

• Childress said WR Greg Camarillo "did a good job" on punt returns, despite a 5.8-yard average heavily impacted by the penalties. "I wouldn't see us probably tending away from him that much. He's solid catching it and he knows where the return's going. He did a good job of pushing that thing up the field."

• Rookie RB Toby Gerhart said he's kicking himself for his fourth-quarter fumble "a ton." The Vikings had driven to the Lions 36-yard line and were in position for at least a field goal that could have given them a 17-point lead with less than 8 minutes to go. "That's a huge point in the game," Gerhart said. "It puts a lot of pressure on the defense, and it takes points off the board for the offense. It makes it a three-score game instead of a two-score game. You want to go out there and make good impressions and that's the worst thing you can do."

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.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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