Minnesota Vikings: Injuries to Winfield or Cook Won't Ruin Secondary Like 2011

Mike NelsonCorrespondent IAugust 23, 2012

Chris Cook has yet to pass a post-concussion test and is out for Friday's game against San Diego.
Chris Cook has yet to pass a post-concussion test and is out for Friday's game against San Diego.Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE

Think back to last year. Think about how bad Minnesota's secondary really was in 2011: seventh most passing yards allowed per game (251.2), most passing touchdowns allowed (34), tied for the fewest interceptions (eight) and opposing quarterbacks completed 68.2 percent of their passes (second worst in the NFL). 

Now think about how far the Vikings secondary has come since then.

Well, not a whole lot has changed as the group is still a big question mark––relative to how it’ll perform for 60 minutes against a first string offense.

But one thing is certain: the secondary is better-suited to handle injuries.

Chris Cook has been declared out of Friday’s third preseason game with concussion-like symptoms. Chris Carr is slated to start in his place against the San Diego Chargers, according to 1500ESPN.

Now think back to 2011, remember all the blown coverages by Marcus Sherels, Brandon Burton, Benny Sapp and Asher Allen. It wasn’t a pretty sight to see. It was a downright eye-sore to watch this secondary in action.

In 2012 Burton and Sherels are strong candidates to make the 53-man roster (shameless plug to check out my take on that very subject) and one of them certainly will.

But the two (or one) will be at the bottom of Minnesota’s depth chart. There are much more talented players to take the field before Minnesota must resort to either of them.

Carr, Josh Robinson and Zack Bowman––signed away from the Chicago Bears this offseason––provide the Vikings with much greater depth than they had in 2011.

Robinson was Minnesota’s third round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. According to 1500ESPN, he’s impressing the coaching staff more and more each day. He ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the 2012 NFL Combine and is a sure-tackler.

Carr may end up as Minnesota’s starting cornerback across from Cook––if he’s able to overcome this potential concussion. But that depends on how the coaches choose to use Winfield. Winfield is better than Carr but at age 35 the coaching staff may seek to limit his reps.

While Bowman hasn’t impressed since 2009 when he had a career-best six interceptions and 66 tackles, he still has good size (6’1” and 190 pounds) and speed. His tackling is suspect, but you can’t expect a sure-thing to be the fifth or sixth player on the depth chart.

Bottom line: an injury to Cook or Winfield is manageable in 2012. Of course there will be a dip in performance from the position without those two but the players on the field will look NFL-worthy––something that wasn’t always the case in 2011.