Rhodes says he's comfortable on either side

Xavier Rhodes was passed over twice as an injury replacement for Chris Cook. Leslie Frazier and Rhodes explain, and there may have been a less obvious factor involved.

Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook lasted three plays against the Cleveland Browns before his day was done.

First-round pick Xavier Rhodes, who was inserted into the lineup whenever the team needed three cornerbacks on the field, was not the substitute the coaching staff called upon to take over for Cook on the right side of the defense after Cook suffered a groin injury.

"I wanted to leave Xavier where he was at this point. He's doing some good things out at the left corner spot," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "He's playing a lot. We're in the nickel defense so much, wanted to leave him where he is and keep our nickel package intact, and that was the thing."

A.J. Jefferson replaced Cook for one drive, but after he was beaten on a 47-yard touchdown to WR Josh Gordon, Jefferson was pulled with an ankle injury and replaced by Marcus Sherels, who finished the game.

Rhodes, meanwhile was relegated to duties on the left side of the defense only in nickel situations. He ended up playing in 65 percent of the defensive snaps, but Sherels was in for 86 percent.

"I have no idea, to be honest," he said when asked why he wasn't the first cornerback off the bench as the injury substitution for Cook. "They felt it was best for me to be on the left. I don't know what they're going to do. That question is a hard question to answer right now."

The Vikings are already over in London for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they have several questions facing their secondary.

Frazier told reporters there on Tuesday that Cook (groin) and Jefferson (ankle), along with S Jamarca Sanford (hamstring), will not practice Wednesday and are day-to-day.

But there is a hidden factor among it all. Although Rhodes wasn't among the injuries listed by Frazier after Sunday's game, he was walking gingerly in the locker room after it.

"I'm good. Just the game. You have little (knicks) and bruises, but I'm alright," Rhodes said Monday when asked about the injury.

"It's the game of football. You have to prepare for that. You don't know who is going to go down at the moment so you have to be prepared for your opportunity."
Rhodes said he has worked at right and left cornerback since joining the Vikings as the No. 25 overall pick in April's draft, but lately has been working mostly on the left side.

"To be honest, it doesn't matter. Wherever the coaches want to put me," he said. "But as you saw in the game, Sherels did a great job playing corner. He did a tremendous job doing what he needed to do and do his job."

Rhodes said he moved around from right to left corner in college and said making the transition isn't hard.

"You've just got to go back into the playbook and know your assignment and get back comfortable with the defense and everything," he said.

Meanwhile, the Vikings are in wait-and-see mode with Cook and Jefferson, and their status could determine if Rhodes starts working in the base defense on the right side.

"We'd have to get him a little work there. He's worked exclusively on the left side. We have to be careful about that with a young guy, not that we couldn't do that, not that we may not do that," Frazier said. "We'll explore all avenues depending on what happens with Chris from a health standpoint. But we'll re-evaluate it."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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