"Continue to work hard. It's going to be a challenge every time you're out there. I don't care how long you play this, you're going to give up plays," Winfield said. "Those receivers and quarterbacks are too good, but it's all about how you come back the next play. You can't get down on yourself because you give up a touchdown or a big catch. Just try to forget it and make the next play."
A toe injury kept Allen out of Saturday's second preseason game, but while Cook had a rough initial outing in defending the run and the pass in the preseason opener, he looked better Saturday night. He was largely responsible for mirroring Sidney Rice, which put the Vikings' tallest cornerback against Seattle's most physical receiver, and one the Vikings were very familiar with.
Even before the second game, Cook knew the importance of establishing himself as a reliable reserve.
"It's definitely important. We need everyone to step up for the 53-man roster, from special teams to first defense to second defense," he said. "Football is a very physical game and injuries happen."
He found that out early last year.
Cook was starting to build up some rookie momentum during training camp last year when he suffered a knee injury that derailed him at the start of the season and then another knee injury, this time his other knee, caused him discomfort the rest of the season. Cook still ended up playing in six games, starting five of those, but his knees gave him issues throughout.
These days, it's a new story for him on the health front.
"It definitely feels good," he said. "Words can't describe the way I feel about that. I'm just happy to be out here and running around again and cut at full speed without having to worry about pain shooting up my leg and playing slow. I can play fast now without thinking about my knees."
He saw plenty of action in the first half of Saturday's game against Seattle. Cedric Griffin returned to the starting lineup but only played one series. Cook entered the game for the final three plays of Seattle's first series when the Vikings were in a nickel defense and matched up against Rice.
He continued to play every snap on the Vikings' second and third defensive series, matching up against Rice on all four snaps (including one Seattle penalty) on the Seahawks' second possession. During the rest of Cook's night he was used often against Rice, although not exclusively, and held up well. He was step-for-step with Rice when Jackson unleashed an incomplete bomb for him down the right sideline, and was trailing him later on that possession when Jackson overthrew Rice in the end zone, a pass that went through safety Mistral Raymond's hands.
Cook said last week that he's more mature having gone through his rookie season in the NFL.
"I went through a lot three years ago, getting suspended from school and then going back to school and having success my senior year and getting drafted as high as I did," Cook said. "Just coming to the NFL, I feel it was a rookie shock if you want to call it that. It was just a learning process, it was just growing up."
SHERELS' PICKS A FINE TIME
Second-year cornerback Marcus Sherels had quite a preseason experience Saturday night when he fumbled away a punt return, but helped make up for that mistakes with an interception return for a touchdown on the Seahawks' ensuing possession – in fact, just four snaps later.
"I think he really helped himself when you make that type of play and you score on defense," Frazier said Monday. "That's a good thing for our football team and he'll learn from the punt return, tuck it away, keep it high and tight, but that was a great play he made on the interception."
Sherels was probably fortunate that he was initially ruled down. Despite the call being overturned and the ball being awarded to Seattle, having the official blow the play dead kept Seattle linebacker Aaron Curry from being able to return the fumble recovery for a touchdown – an act he was on the way to doing after the recovery.
Griffin played in his first game since tearing his second anterior cruciate ligament on Oct. 11, 2010. On the first play from scrimmage, Griffin broke up a pass intended for Seattle receiver Golden Tate.
"It was great to see him. They challenged him on the first play of the game with a play down the seam and he makes a terrific play that a lot of guys wouldn't make," Frazier said. "It was great that he was able to get out there and we'll give him a little bit more this weekend, we hope, and hopefully he'll continue to progress because if he's able to play, it's going to make us a lot better of a team."
Griffin began practicing with the Vikings at the start of training camp but was held out of the preseason opener against Tennessee. He played the first series – five snaps – for the Vikings Saturday before being sidelined by the coaches as a precautionary measure.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.