As the Vikings began preparing for the Green Bay Packers Wednesday, one player who is ready to add his name to the hundreds that have taken part in the rivalry is cornerback Chris Cook.
A training camp phenom, Cook has been sidelined by not one, but two meniscus tears – a right meniscus tear that sat him down for four weeks and a left meniscus tear in his first game back that has sidelined him for two weeks.
He said Wednesday that he is ready to return. Last Friday, Cook pronounced himself about 80 percent and wasn't sure if he would play against the Dallas Cowboys. He was inactive for that game.
On Wednesday, he pronounced himself ready to play. Was he ready last week against the Cowboys? If he was, he wasn't saying Wednesday.
"I don't even want to talk about last week," Cook said. "This week is a good week for me. I think it's time for me to go. Last week is done with."
What he would say is that the recovery time from his most recent injury has gone much smoother. The injury sustained in the Lions game was much less severe and he said that his rehab has been much more effective to getting him back to 100 percent.
"This one has definitely been way easier to come back from than the first one," Cook said. "I'm at two weeks now. The last one I came back four weeks after my surgery. I feel so much better at two weeks on this (injury) than I did at two weeks with the other one."
He said there has been a big difference in the rehab process because of the severity, not the location, of the injuries.
"They were both the same injury," Cook said. "It was just one was smaller than the other one. My left knee was a smaller tear than the right knee. I feel like that attributed to me coming back faster this time."
Cook expects to be active Sunday, but said he isn't sure what his role will be. He said the coaching and medical staff are moving forward with different scenarios in mind, but he doesn't think being allowed to play a full game is among them. There is being in shape and being in NFL game shape and Cook said you can't truly simulate game shape to practice shape.
"I don't know if they're going put me out there for the whole game," Cook said. "I haven't been there for a few weeks and conditioning in the game is different than conditioning in practice. Offenses can get to moving at a tempo that can catch you off-guard if you're not in condition."
He said he would like nothing more than to test his knees by potentially adding his name to the Vikings-Packers lore by scoring a defensive touchdown and contemplating putting his spin on a Green Bay tradition.
"I'm tired of being on the sidelines," Cook said. "Lambeau Field is a legendary place. If I was a Packer, I would definitely learn The Leap. I'm a Viking, so it's a Vikings Leap."
Cook said his role in Sunday night's game will be critical to the Vikings success or failure. He said he knows about the Vikings-Packers rivalry and is looking forward to becoming part of it. But his excitement isn't so much about being part of a long-held rivalry as it is going up against a team that is ahead of them (for now) in the standings with a quarterback that is expected to pepper the secondary with passes.
"Coach Childress brought up the rivalry this morning," Cook said. "I don't get the feeling that we're playing them too big off the rivalry. We just want to beat these guys anyway. I feel like the secondary, personally, is taking this as a big challenge. (Green Bay quarterback Aaron) Rodgers is going throw the ball 50-plus times because their running game isn't as good as it was last year with Ryan Grant being out. I'm definitely looking forward to it."
Cook's coming-out party has been delayed twice. With a record-setting audience expected to be tuning in Sunday night, Cook is hoping the third time is the charm under the bright lights at one of the most fabled cathedrals of sports.
"Sunday night? Lambeau Field? That would be sweet," Cook said.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
CB Cook excited to return against Packers
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