Struggling Vikings secondary won't have Chris Cook, Jamarca Sanford vs. Cowboys
NOV 01, 2013 2:52p ET
Safety Harrison Smith, the biggest playmaking defensive back for Minnesota, is on the short-term injured reserve and the Vikings will also be without cornerback Chris Cook and safety Jamarca Sanford because of injury.
Cook will miss the game with a hip injury and Sanford is out with a groin injury. It will be the second missed game of the season for both players.
"We're a little thinned out back there, particularly at safety," coach Leslie Frazier said. "But we're going to end up starting Mistral (Raymond) and ( Andrew) Sendejo and we'll work Robert Blanton in there (at safety). At corner, with Chris being out, we'll have to go through our rotation with Josh (Robinson), Xavier (Rhodes), ( Marcus) Sherels and A.J. (Jefferson). Those will be the guys, and we signed Shaun Prater a few weeks ago as well. Those guys will be up and we'll need them to do a good job. They've got a good offense."
Minnesota will also be without defensive tackle Fred Evans (knee), tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle) and running back Matt Asiata (shoulder) on Sunday. All missed practice Friday.
Running back Adrian Peterson, who is dealing with hamstring tightness, didn't practice Friday, but Frazier said it was a decision he made to rest Peterson instead of any issues with the hamstring.
"That was more of my decision than anything going on with him physically," Frazier said. "I want him to be ready to go on Sunday hoping that he'll get some carries."
Receiver Greg Jennings (knee) returned to full practice and is listed as probable. Linebacker Chad Greenway (wrist), defensive tackle Kevin Williams (knee), kicker Blair Walsh (left hamstring), cornerback A.J. Jefferson (ankle) and receiver Rodney Smith (hip) practiced fully Friday and are probable for Sunday.
In his fourth year, Cook has yet to play a complete season in the NFL and was hopeful to finally reach the 16-game mark this year. He missed the Week 4 game with a groin injury.
"Sixteen went to 15 and now I guess it has to go to 14," Cook said. "I can only control what I can control. As a football player, we try to take care of our bodies as best we can. Football is a fast game and a very violent game. Injuries happen, so you have to roll with the punches sometimes."
Cook missed 10 games his rookie season because of injuries to both knees. An off-field incident kept him out 10 games in 2011 and he missed six games last year because of a broken arm. Cook said he's getting close to returning and did running on the side of the field during practice Friday.
He said he feels like he has to "put a string of games together" after injuries have marred his career.
"Early in the week, I was real frustrated," Cook said. "I came in on Wednesday and everybody was like, 'What's wrong with you? Why you so down and out?' I was just letting it bother me. But it's nothing that's season-ending or career ending, so I just let it go and I'm moving on. I'm smiling now."
The Cowboys have averaged 261.3 passing yards per game this season. Romo has developed into one of the league's best quarterbacks and ranks fifth in passer rating (101.7), sixth in passing yards (2,216), third in passing touchdowns (18) and is tied for the 11th fewest interceptions with five.
Receiver Miles Austin is listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury and has missed three games, but Romo still has completed at least 26 passes to receivers Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams and tight end Jason Witten. The Vikings rank 29th in the league against the pass, allowing 287.9 yards per game.
Frazier wasn't sure who would step up in Cook's starting spot across from Robinson. Rhodes, a rookie, has been the main nickel cornerback this year. Sherels and Jefferson have also seen time at cornerback.
"We're still talking about that," Frazier said of the second starter. "Those guys have all practiced well this week so we've just got to make a decision which guy you want to start opposite Josh."
Frazier said the team also could look to add a safety before Sunday's game. Undrafted rookie Brandan Bishop is on the practice squad.
Dallas listed cornerback Morris Claiborne (hamstring), linebacker DeVonte Holloman (neck), guard Brian Waters (elbow) and safety J.J. Wilcox (knee) as out for Sunday. Linebacker DeMarcus Ware (thigh) is doubtful after not practicing all week and missing the past two games. Running back DeMarco Murray is expected to return after missing last week's game with a knee injury.
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