Cook was in good position and appeared to be ready for an interception or deflected pass. Instead, Simpson was the player that came down with the ball and received an immediate show of appreciation from teammates.
Simpson was asked about the catch after practice and the team's website was eager to get video of the catch uploaded.
So what's the big deal with a single catch in an early offseason practice?
Actually, it's a big deal on two fronts. First, the Vikings have been lacking a legitimate deep-threat receiver since Sidney Rice took his talents and $18.5 million in guarantees to Seattle in free agency before the start of the 2011 season.
Devin Aromashodu was serviceable, although somewhat inconsistent, in that capacity last year. Bernard Berrian, whom coaches praised early in training camp, proved to be the same uninspired speed receiver he had been since 2009. In essence, the Vikings had no other receiver to match the speed and explosiveness of Percy Harvin.
Simpson came to Minnesota after signing a one-year contract in March. He had the speed (14.5-yard average per catch) and athleticism (witness his highlight-film flip into the end zone last year). But Simpson also came with one big question mark – his hands.
Last year, Simpson was ninth in the league with eight dropped passes, according to Stats LLC. Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White led the NFL with 14 drops in 2011, but the top-10 list also included such notables as Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe (12), Miami's Brandon Marshall (12) Green Bay's Jermichael Finley (11) and Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson (9).
In his first three years in the NFL, Simpson wasn't credited with any dropped passes while he had 21 receptions.
Interestingly, the Vikings were tied with the Oakland Raiders as the teams with the fewest dropped passes (20) in 2011. Aromashodu led the team with four while Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe had three apiece, according to Stats LLC.
ANOTHER RECEIVER TO WATCH
Simpson has easily been the most impressive receiver in the two practices open to reporters, but second-year player Stephen Burton has been active, too.
Burton – the second-year player who was on the practice squad for the first seven weeks of his rookie season, played in three of the next six games and then spent the final three weeks of the season on injured reserve – has received some time with the first-team offense.
"The good thing for Stephen is that he was able to get some reps in ballgames a year ago when I know he wasn't expecting that early on and neither were we. That helped him because he has a lot more confidence at this stage than when we had him in training camp," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "He's grown so much from having the chance to dress and get in a ballgame and his understanding of the offense is so much further ahead as well. You can see the confidence and that's a big thing for a receiver, big thing for any young player. He has tremendous athletic ability and he is one of those guys who can jump out of the gym and make the acrobatic catch, but his confidence, that's the one thing that you can see is coming through now."
On the other hand, rookie receiver Greg Childs, who, like Simpson, could offer a big-bodied deep threat, has been sidelined since rookie minicamp in May with a strained calf muscle.
"I know he's getting treatment and doing everything he can to get back on the field and begin to learn the offense, not just from a mental standpoint, but the physical part of what we do. He's missing that, but he'll get caught up. He's a smart kid and it's unfortunate he can't get some of these reps now, but he'll get caught up," Frazier said.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.