Notebook: Still no interceptions, Cook says he's seeing less 'action'
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Newly signed cornerback Jacob Lacey has six career interceptions, which doubles the amount of interceptions combined between the healthy Minnesota Vikings secondary members.
In that mix is fourth-year cornerback Chris Cook, who is still without an interception in 22 career starts.
"I haven't really had many opportunities. I can't really count off the top of my head how many opportunities I've had," Cook said. "Like when I've been playing, I've noticed I don't really get much action. I don't know why."
Cook is the eldest cornerback in a secondary that allows 308 passing yards per game (29th) and the concern over his lack of interceptions is only second to his health. Cook has already missed one game this season with a groin injury that forced him to miss all but three snaps of the loss to the Cleveland Browns. In the past two seasons, Cook is three snaps short of sitting out eight games.
But there may be something to his theory about less action. Cook has been targeted 18 times in the three full games he's played this season. The most Cook has seen was when he had seven passes thrown his way, second on the team in targets, when he helped defend Detroit Lions' receiver Calvin Johnson in the season opener.
During his first three games of 2012, Cook either led or tied with the lead for targets in each outing. However, with cornerback Antoine Winfield out of the slot, opponents are targeting the inside more often than not this season. Cornerback Josh Robinson has seen 42 passes thrown his way after five games.
"I don't really worry about the numbers right now," Cook said. "They'll come eventually."
The already-decimated secondary, which is without safety Harrison Smith to a foot injury for at least eight weeks, added Lacey on Friday, who has his own deep injury history.
The Vikings originally signed Lacey on Apr. 30, but the cornerback missed offseason workouts with a dislocated thumb and missed most of training camp after having minor knee surgery. He was released on Aug. 19 and was re-signed on Friday.
Lacey's familiarity with the defensive system and coaches means he'll likely get on the field in short order, but Monday night's game against the New York Giants and quarterback Eli Manning may be too soon. Manning has thrown a league-leading 15 interceptions this season, which could be what Cook needs to break his streak.
"[Eli Manning] is a proven guy. But I really don't know what's going on with him, honestly," Cook said. "People have been kind of tricking him. They'll show him one thing and do the opposite. They haven't been picking up blitz pressures well. It causes mistakes on the offensive side of the ball."
"Hopefully he'll throw us a few."
Walsh a game-time decision
Kicker Blair Walsh had to let rookie punter Jeff Locke handle kickoff duties on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers because of a hamstring injury and it appears he'll be a game-time decision on Monday night.
Walsh has been held out of practice this week, but did some individual work with head trainer Eric Sugarman during Friday's practice. In hindsight, special teams coach Mike Priefer said holding Walsh back on Sunday was the right thing to do.
"I think what we did with [Walsh] was smart, I think it helped him mentally. Obviously you guys know, physically as well as mentally you get healthy that way," Priefer said. "He's never had an injury before, so he's doing better."
Locke is the Vikings' backup plan once again as he handled kickoff duties at UCLA and during his high school days. Should he need to step in on Monday, the weather report at the outdoor MetLife Stadium seems favorable with low winds and mild temperatures.
"I've kicked in some pretty cold games, actually," Locke said. "I've had three snow games in my career, one I think was 15 degrees with the wind chill."
"But I think [Walsh] is doing well, not exactly sure of his state, we'll see as the game gets closer."
Next man up?
Rookie linebacker Gerald Hodges made his NFL debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 29, even grabbing his first tackle on special teams.
But with linebacker Desmond Bishop out for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee, Hodges is one step closer to seeing more playing time.
"Coach [Fred] Pagac said we saw a different guy the last two days. When you have a young guy and he sees the guys stacked on the depth chart, it seems there's no end in sight. Now that we have one injury, he gets bumped up to the next guy and he sees that 'oh, I'm an injury or so away' so to speak," Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said.
Williams said the decision hasn't been made if Hodges will be active for his second NFL game of his career and that appears so as Hodges said he hadn't been told of a plan yet, either.
Linebacker Marvin Mitchell should step back into the starting role at weak-side linebacker. It's unlikely that Hodges will swap snaps with him like Bishop did, but he's apparently got an extra spring in his step with the possibility.
"We've been seeing a different guy yesterday in practice and day before that. [Hodges] has been moving around with a sense of urgency we've wanted to see before," Williams said. "He's coming along well."
Running back Adrian Peterson (hamstring), left tackle Matt Kalil (back) and cornerback A.J. Jefferson (ankle) were all held out of Friday's practice. Walsh (hamstring) was limited and did individual work with head trainer Eric Sugarman.