Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Cook has the right frame of mind entering his crucial season.
The reason for Chris Cook's presence here has little to do with his on-field performance at OTAs but for his mentality.
Cook is entering a pivotal year not only for his individual career (last year of rookie contract), but also for his role within the defense.
Veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield is gone. Last year's middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley is gone, too.
There's a void for leadership in the back seven. And Cook could be a guy to ease the loss.
Early in the OTA process, Cook told 1500 ESPN he would tell first-round pick Xavier Rhodes not to worry about covering the top receivers. He, Cook, would cover them.
Now, he said that with a laugh.
But somewhere inside he knows he has to do that this season. He was in charge of covering the No. 1 wideouts last season. But it's more important he successfully cover them this season with the back seven's losses.
Cook's always had the physical tools to be a stellar cornerback. Now it's time for him to stay on the field and mentor Rhodes in his on-field development, something he says he's ready to do.
"Just lead by example," Cook told Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press. "Show guys how to practice. Show them how to study, what's expected of you, especially for Xavier, a guy coming in as a first-rounder. Sometimes it can do something to your character. But he's a well-grounded guy. I feel like my job is to keep him that way."