Cooks Says He's Ready for Versatility

Position flexibility has been a mantra for many of the players acquired by the Vikings this year, but rookie Ryan Cook played center full-time at the University of New Mexico. Cook, however, said he is ready to learn a new position if needed to add depth along the offensive line. Plus, get insight from Chris Kluwe and Kyle McKenzie.

Ryan Cook was drafted as a center, having played four years there at the University of New Mexico. But in the NFL, he knows he has to be ready to learn other positions along the offensive line.

"The more you're willing to do, the longer you stay around," Cook said following Sunday's Minnesota Vikings morning practice. "I'm trying to learn as much as possible as fast as possible."

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said that Cook, a 6-foot-6,
328-pounder whom the Vikings selected in the second round, will also get some time at right tackle to give the line some depth.

"He has great athletic ability," Bevell said. "We may be able to find opportunities for him to compete and see what he can do for us."

Cook, the highest draftee from New Mexico since Brian Urlacher went in the first round in 2000, said he hasn't played right tackle since high school, but he's up for the challenge. And with no veterans on the field the last three days, three offensive linemen have been getting instructions from two coaches.

"It's good for us," Cook said. "We get a lot of attention, and any questions we have can get cleared up quickly. When the veterans get here, the pace gets faster."

VETERANS ARRIVE TODAY

The rest of the Vikings squad is scheduled to arrive by 5 p.m. today, and while the rookies will lose reps during practice, there's still some desire to get the starters in there.

"It's nice to get the extra work, but when the vets get here, that's going to slow down," cornerback Cedric Griffin said. "We're going to get a little more rest, and things will get in order."

KLUWE'S KNEE HOLDING UP

Through these first training camp practices, Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has been giving his leg a good workout. And other than the usual soreness, his surgically repaired right knee has held up well.

"It still swells after every practice, but a little ice takes care of that," Kluwe said. "That will probably still be happening for another five, six months."

Kluwe was picked up on waivers from Seattle just a week before last season's opener, replacing Darren Bennett. Kluwe was impressive, averaging 44.1 yards per punt, second best in the NFC. But late in the season, he suffered a knee injury that required offseason surgery, and this is the first opportunity he's had to test the knee.

"My leg feels good, I feel like I'm getting good power," he said. "I'm just concentrating on technique and timing because I haven't kicked anything in six months."

Kluwe is competing with rookie free agent John Torp, who averaged 44.6 yards per punt in his career at Colorado.

ALWAYS HUSTLING

Former Gophers linebacker Kyle McKenzie said the biggest difference between college and professional practices is the pace.

"You have to be hustling all the time," McKenzie said. "You're always getting evaluated. In college, if you don't hustle all the time, they're not going to kick you off the team."

McKenzie said that playing in the same building as the Vikings for the last four seasons surely helped him get into training camp.

"They watched a lot of my games," he said. "You want to show the coaches what you can do. You have to make every play count."



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