MINNEAPOLIS -- Chris Cook entered the 2013 as the most experienced member of the Vikings' secondary, openly embracing the new leadership responsibilities he'd inherited in the wake of Antoine Winfield's departure. Cook was recovered from a broken arm that caused him to miss six games in 2012, had been back to the University of Virginia to work toward his degree, and was priming for a big season before hitting unrestricted free agency next spring.
But the former second-round pick hasn't made the kind of statement he was hoping for in 2013. He's missed three games because of injuries, had been beat for four touchdowns before Sunday, and still hadn't come up with his first career interception. Cook's abbreviated performance on Sunday further soured his season.
He was ejected for making contact with an official after giving up his second touchdown of the day to Alshon Jeffery in the third quarter -- a 46-yard pass on third-and-14 that Jeffery caught just over the top of Cook. Jeffery had beaten the corner for an 80-yard touchdown early in the third quarter, and Cook had complained to officials two plays before the second touchdown, when he thought Jeffery should have been called for offensive pass interference while knocking away a would-be interception.
As depleted as the Vikings already were in the secondary, Cook's outburst came at a bad time.
"The third-and-14, we were in great shape," coach Leslie Frazier said. "(That's) a ball you've got to knock away. We don't knock it down, they make a terrific catch and Chris ends up getting ejected from the game. ... You've got to keep your composure, especially at the corner position. There are going to be times you get beat. You can't let that stuff get to you. You've got to line up and play the next play."
The first part of Frazier's quote was interesting, too, as it spoke to what might be Cook's biggest problem as a corner. He's been beaten over the top on several touchdowns this season -- which is concerning for a 6-foot-2 corner -- and on Sunday, he again struggled to locate the ball and make a play on it.
Cook left without speaking to reporters after the game, but he certainly had reason to be disappointed in himself on Sunday. It might have done further harm to his value heading into this offseason.