EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Chris Cook was more than frustrated when he left the field on Oct. 25 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after suffering an arm injury that he thought might wipe out another season.
Cook, two seasons since being the Minnesota Vikings' top pick in the 2010 draft, had already been through plenty, his first two seasons cut short by first injuries and then a legal issue. He wasn't prepared to have another season ended prematurely.
"I was very emotional when it happened, yelling and screaming, cursing," Cook said Wednesday, sitting at his locker with his right forearm free of any cast or brace. "After the surgery and after coming back in here the next couple of days and being around my teammates, it helped me feel better about the situation and knowing that I could come back by the end of the year with this injury it definitely helps a lot."
Cook, who has been out of his cast for about two weeks after breaking the radius bone in his right forearm -- one of the two large bones in the forearm -- while trying to make a diving tackle on Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin in that Week 8 game, believes he will return.The cornerbackdoes wear a brace on the arm still and is doing wrist and forearm movements. Wednesday, Cook vowed he will be back.
Cook was placed on the injured reserve list on Oct. 26, but was given the team's designation to return this season, a single exemption each team is allowed once this season. The belief then, with a seven to eight week time frame for recovery, was Cook's only chance at returning was if Minnesota made the playoffs.
Having to sit out at least six games while on injured reserve, the earliest Cook could return is the second-to-last regular season game against the Houston Texans.
"Not even hopeful," Cook said. "In my mind, I'm coming back this year. So, that keeps me in high spirits."
Cook's talent as the tall, cover corner the Vikings drafted in the second round in 2010 unfortunately has been surpassed only by his inability to finish seasons in the lineup. Injuries to both of his knees at different points in his rookie season ended up cutting his first season short when he played just six games. He returned for 2011, but was told to stay away from the team for the final nine games because of an altercation with his girlfriend led to assault charges. He was acquitted of the charges and returned this year focused on putting his troubled past behind him.
This season, Cook was again beginning to display the cover skills and ability to match up with elite receivers that has had him in such high regard with Minnesota's staff before the injury. Cook has 31 tackles, a sack and 11 pass deflections this season, and the coaches tried to lift his spirits after the injury.
"It seems like he's been snake-bitten the last few years," defensive coordinator Alan Williams said of his conversations with Cook. "That's not what you can control. Right now the only thing he can control is doing the rehab that he's supposed to do, show up here on time, continue to condition, lift weights and do what the training staff asks him to do. If he can do that the best of his ability, he's controlling what he can control. He can't control even how fast that he heals. That only leads to being frustrated. You don't want to do that."
Cook had a tough time dealing with the news the first few days, but has since put himself on track in returning as soon as possible. He's doing wrist movements to try and regain strength, and he continues his conditioning work so he can be ready when his arm is fully healed and strong.
"It feels pretty good," Cook said. "I can move it. It might swell up here and there, every now and again, but it feels goodI'm doing everything conditioning-wise, all lower-body stuff. I did some shoulder workouts, but nothing that would put stress on my forearm or my wrist."
The team has filled in with A.J. Jefferson, another tall corner who was acquired from the Arizona Cardinals before the season started, and Jefferson has held up with the increased playing time. Rookie Josh Robinson has remained the nickel defensive back. Minnesota never signed another cornerback to replace Cook on the roster.
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