Cook takes accountability for performance

Right tackle Ryan Cook has heard the talk about his performance and whether he's a better right tackle or center. He has looked at the tape from last year and evaluated his own play. See what he had to say about the possibilities of playing right tackle or center, and even the Vikings' prerogative of selecting a tackle early in the draft.

Offensive lineman Ryan Cook isn't making any excuses for his performance last year. He knows he had too many penalties and he's looking to improve and hoping that's good enough to retain a starting spot.

Cook started and ended the season at right tackle, but he was benched after 10 games, then regained his starting spot when Artis Hicks' triceps injury to was too painful to continue playing with.

"Obviously, I need to be more consistent and staying onsides is a big thing for me. Last year, I had six or seven offsides penalties, which is obviously way too many. So, that's something I've been focusing on and getting that taken care of," Cook said this week during the team's first week of offseason conditioning.

Eliminating the penalties is a matter of focus, he said, especially when he was tired. Now he's hoping to build on the final four games of the season, when he moved back into the starting lineup and believes he did better.

The benching will serve as motivation.

"I wasn't happy about being benched, but that's what they thought was in the best interest. Obviously, I did everything I could to try and get back and then when I did get back my spot I tried to progress farther than where I was from before and raise my level of play. I think I did that. I'm going forward and just trying to build off the last quarter of the year and move forward from there," he said.

"No one likes to get benched, so going from that, I think I just used that as motivation to refocus and push forward."

Cook said he hasn't been told what the plan is for him in 2009. He was drafted in the second round in 2006 after playing center at New Mexico and started the final three games of his rookie season at right tackle. In his three seasons, he has started 33 of the 38 games he has played – all at right tackle – but questions remain about whether he is better suited at tackle or center.

"I think you've heard me say before that he's a multi-position guy, and obviously he played center and has the ability to play center and tackle. I imagine he'll see duty at both of those as we go through OTAs (organized team activities)," head coach Brad Childress said.

Cook said he's "most definitely" open to the possibility of playing center and he believes the coaches know he is a work in progress at tackle.

"I think they know there was definitely a learning curve involved with it and I think I'm at the tail end of that deal. I think I've started to become more comfortable within the (tackle) position. I thought I was a little bit more comfortable than I was the year before. I think it's just a growing process," Cook said. "Obviously, I didn't play a whole lot (of tackle) in college, and coming here and kind of getting thrown into it, it's still a work in progress, but it's moving forward."

Cook said he waited "a little bit of time" after the season before he started to watch tape again. He wanted to remove the emotional aspect of evaluating his performance. Now, three months after the season, there is plenty of speculation that the Vikings will be looking for a right tackle in the early rounds of the NFL draft, which runs April 25-26.

"That doesn't have any bearing on me," he said. "Obviously, they are going to do what they feel is in the best interest of the team and I have no choice but to come in here and work every day and vie for a spot like I would every single year coming into training camp."

This year, he could be fighting for his starting spot more than he has the previous two offseasons.

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