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  1. #1
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    All things Cook: Lineman versatile

    Posted on Sun, Jul. 30, 2006

    [size=18px]All things Cook: Lineman versatile[/size]

    BY DON SEEHOLZER
    Pioneer Press


    MANKATO, Minn. — It's not the heat. It's the humidity.

    That's one lesson Vikings rookie Ryan Cook has learned about Minnesota already this summer, and his NFL education is just beginning.

    A second-round draft choice from New Mexico, Cook has spent the first two days of the rookies/selected veterans portion of training camp at his college position of center, but offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Saturday that he also could get a look at right tackle.

    That's OK with Cook, who is tackle-sized, at 6 feet 6 and 328 pounds, but said he played the position only in one-on-one pass drills during practice in college, never in a game.

    "Coming into camp, every inclination was I'm going to be playing two positions, center and right tackle," he said. "I'm versatile enough to play both of them. I'm just trying to come in and focus on both positions, learn both of them simultaneously. I got a pretty good jump on center during the minicamp sessions, so I kind of have a pretty good feel with that. Now my focus is going to a little bit more tackle."

    Cook gives some of the credit for his offseason development at center to Vikings starter Matt Birk, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, whom the rookie called "a good guy and a good guy to learn from. He's been around for going on his ninth year now, been to a couple of Pro Bowls, so he's definitely a good mentor to have."

    Birk and most of the veterans don't report to Mankato until 5 p.m. today, so Cook hasn't had the benefit of Birk's experience this weekend.

    The former college walk-on has been getting a lot of individual instruction, though, as one of just three rookie offensive linemen, including tackle Donald Penn and center/guard Jason Palermo, working under offensive line coaches Pat Morris and Jim Hueber.

    "It's good to get the individual attention," Cook said. "If you have any questions, you can ask them. They're there to answer for you right there on the spot without having to wait, which is good."

    The downside to that is there are no long lines to hide in when the temperature soars into the mid- to high-90s, as it did Friday afternoon.

    A native of Albuquerque, N.M., Cook said he's used to the heat and can handle the humidity, too, as long as there's a breeze.

    "It's all the same," he said. "The water just kind of sits on you a little bit more here than the Southwest."

    Weather or not: The Vikings got a break during the morning practice Saturday as cloud cover and a steady breeze kept the temperature in the mid-80s.

    By the start of the afternoon work, it was 90 degrees with 68 percent humidity, and most players have been cooling down after practice in an inflatable pool filled with ice water.

    Quick study: Rookie Tarvaris Jackson is expected to spend this season watching and learning as the Vikings' No. 3 quarterback, but Bevell said he has been pleasantly surprised at how quickly the second-round pick from Division I-AA Alabama State has picked up the offense.

    "No one is going to outwork him," Bevell said. "He's done a great job of having his nose in the book and studying hard. He has great retention. Now we just have to get that muscle memory going, throwing the routes, reads, progressions. We have to see how far he can progress as we go through this thing."

    Role reversal: The Vikings have traded in their two-tight end offense for a West Coast scheme, but Bevell said tight ends Jermaine Wiggins and Jim Kleinsasser still will be on the field together at times.

    "Jim's kind of been pigeonholed as our blocker, and Wiggins has been pigeonholed as our pass receiver," Bevell said. "I think we're going to make them both more well-rounded players. We'll let Jim go out and catch a pass every now and then. We'll have Wiggins standing out there and blocking on the end. And that will keep us more balanced offensively."

    Briefly: The fact that Chris Kluwe is the No. 1 holder on field goals and extra points won't hurt him in his punting duel with rookie John Torp.

    • With 12 wide receivers on the roster, Bevell couldn't put a definite number on how many the Vikings will keep, but he said five is customary.

    All things Cook: Lineman versatile

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
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    Re: All things Cook: Lineman versatile

    [size=18px]Cook might tackle new position[/size]

    While the Vikings are planning to keep second-round pick Ryan Cook at center, the team also wants to get him some work at right tackle during training camp.

    Judd Zulgad, Star Tribune
    Last update: July 29, 2006 – 10:00 PM


    While the Vikings are planning to keep second-round pick Ryan Cook at center, the team also wants to get him some work at right tackle during training camp.

    Cook played center during his collegiate career at New Mexico but at 6-6 he is considered tall for the position and his long reach might make him more suited to play tackle.

    "I think the biggest thing right now is just to get him in there against as good of competition as we can put him against," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "Right now he's penciled in there at the center spot, but he has great athletic ability. During this camp, we may see him swing out to right tackle. We may be able to find opportunities for him to compete and see what he can do for us."

    Cook never has played the tackle position in a game and saw limited practice time at that spot while playing for New Mexico.

    "I got a pretty good jump on center during the minicamp sessions, so I kind of have a pretty good feel with that," he said. "Now my focus is going to be a little bit more on tackle than center."

    Student-teacher ratio

    With only rookies and selected veterans in camp for the first three days of practices, players are getting plenty of individual attention. This is especially true with the offensive line, where there are three players and two coaches. Rookies Jason Palermo, Donald Penn and Cook have been receiving instruction from Pat Morris and Jim Hueber.

    "It's good," Cook said. "If you have any questions you can ask [the coaches], and they are there to answer them for you right on the spot without having to wait."

    The fifth and final practice for the smaller group of players will be held this morning. The rest of the team is due to report by 5 p.m. today. A conditioning test, which will be closed to the public and media, is scheduled to be held Monday morning.

    Moving up?

    Bevell did not close the door on second-round quarterback Tarvaris Jackson becoming the No. 2 quarterback at some point this season.

    "We have to see how far he can progress through this training camp and through the preseason games," Bevell said. "We have to see where he can get to. I've been pleasantly surprised with how fast he picked up the offense.

    "No one is going to outwork him. He's done a great job of having his nose in the book and studying hard. He has a great retention. Now we just have to get that muscle memory going, throwing the routes, reads, progressions."

    Etc.

    • Safety Willie Offord, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last season, practiced Saturday without a brace on the knee. Offord was wearing the device Friday but found it restricted him. The medical staff cleared him to discard it Saturday. "I didn't think they'd let me go without it this quick but they did," he said.

    • Punter Chris Kluwe is in line to take over as the holder on field-goal attempts. Kluwe was last used in that role during his senior season at UCLA. Rookie punter John Torp and backup quarterback Mike McMahon also could get some work holding during camp.

    • Tight ends Jermaine Wiggins and Jim Kleinsasser will be asked to step out of their comfort zones a bit more this season, according to Bevell.

    "There will be opportunities to get them both on the field at the same time," Bevell said. "Jim's kind of been pigeon-holed as our blocker and Wiggins has been pigeon-holed as our pass receiver. I think we're going to make them both more well-rounded players. We'll let Jim go out and catch a pass every now and then. We'll have Wiggins standing out there and blocking on the end. That will keep us more balanced offensively."

    Cook might tackle new position

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  3. #3
    Benet's Avatar
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    Re: All things Cook: Lineman versatile

    I like the idea of seeing some 2 TE sets in our offence, I think having Wiggins and Kleinsasser on the field at the same time could really cause some matchup problems for opposing defences.

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