|Line switch: Penalties help get Cook benched|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 21 November 2008 17:05|
After starting 29 straight games at right tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, Cook was benched this week in favor of versatile veteran Artis Hicks.
``I'm not happy that was the occurrence, but obviously I support Artis in whatever he's doing in his endeavors and I'll do the best I can to help out,'' Cook said.
Cook's performance last Sunday in a loss at Tampa Bay proved costly.
He committed a false start penalty for the third straight game, giving him five for the season; that's tied for third most in the league, according to Stats Inc. Cook has eight penalties overall, which is tied for eighth.
Cook also was beaten by defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson on the game's final drive for an 8-yard sack that essentially ended the Vikings' comeback opportunity. Though Gus Frerotte's lack of mobility has led to his 25 sacks taken in eight games, coach Brad Childress pinned that last one in Tampa on Cook.
Drafted in the second round out of New Mexico, with the pick obtained from Miami in the Daunte Culpepper trade, the 6-foot-6, 330-pound Cook was a center in college who became a project when he was moved to tackle. He progressed enough to solidify a place in the starting lineup while Minnesota led the NFL in rushing last season, but those flags this fall have been costly.
``They were in critical times,'' Cook said. ``You just can't make those penalties. Obviously that doesn't make me very happy as a player, but I guess you've just got to move on.''
With perennial Pro Bowl center Matt Birk unsigned beyond this year, the Vikings could look at Cook as a center next season if Birk doesn't come back. Rookie John Sullivan is the current backup.
Cook was drafted ahead of most projections, so his performance will be watched closely. Especially considering the players taken soon after him in the second round in 2006: Green Bay wide receiver Greg Jennings, Chicago all-purpose player Devin Hester, Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew, and Denver tight end Tony Scheffler.
``It's a cumulative work,'' Childress said, explaining his decision. ``You're trying to put yourself in the best position to win the game, so that's all I'm doing. ... Need a higher level there.''
Hicks was the starter at right guard for all but two games in 2006, due to a sprained ankle, and the first month of 2007 until losing that job to Anthony Herrera. He filled in at left tackle in September while Bryant McKinnie served a four-game suspension.
In his seventh season, Hicks, of course, knows the drill.
``He'll know what he's supposed to do, and he'll do it well like he always does,'' Birk said.
Eager to return to the lineup, Hicks was sympathetic to Cook's situation.
``If anybody in this locker room understands what he's going through, it's me,'' Hicks said. ``I went through it last year, you know? So I feel for him, but at the same time I know that he's a good player and he'll bounce back from it.''