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Audie Cole is a study in contrasts—while having a terrible training camp, he has been arguably the most electric player this preseason.
He had a strong showing in his first preseason game, with three tackles—one for a loss—and a sack. Added to that total is one quarterback hit.
But it was his second game that catapulted him into preseason consciousness, for whatever that's worth.
While not recording any tackles, he did record two interceptions, both returned for touchdowns.
On back-to-back plays.
To some, this answered some serious questions about Cole's play—his coverage skills have been a real worry for many fans following the Vikings closely.
It wasn't just reports coming out of practice, either: that had always been Cole's biggest knock. At North Carolina State, he only recorded one interception in his four years there.
His biggest advantage has been his field intelligence and excellent positioning, which played a big part in the second interception of the night—he read the quarterback and the receiver, then jumped the route, helped in part by sloppy route running from Namaan Roosevelt.
Unfortunately, his speed and agility gave rise to further issues that scouts had with his otherwise excellent play with the Wolfpack. So far, he's been able to use his other assets to mask his speed issues.
He did not do as well in his limited snaps in San Diego, incidentally. While the stat sheet shows a tackle for a stop at two yards, and another tackle for loss, the first tackle was a product of luck. Cole read the play correctly and got into position for a run out wide by Edwin Baker, but Baker beat him out left and he was burned.
Or rather, he would have been, had Baker not tripped and fell.
The second tackle occurred as San Diego was running out the clock to seal the win. The offense ran it up the middle and the defense shut it down. Nothing really to Cole's credit.
At any rate, Cole is still on the bubble and accountable for his bad offseason, and will be fighting for a roster spot on Thursday. Whether or not he's on the outside looking in or fighting for a spot he just gained, he'll need to play at his best in order to supplant Tyrone McKenzie, Larry Dean and Marvin Mitchell.