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Sunday, September 22, 2013
With Cook out, Vikings struggling at CB

By Ben Goessling

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Vikings' secondary depth, which already looked like an issue early this season, is being tested against the Cleveland Browns today.

Right cornerback Chris Cook is questionable to return with a groin injury, and A.J. Jefferson -- who got beat on a stop-and-go move for a 47-yard Josh Gordon touchdown after he replaced Cook -- has also received treatment on the sideline for an apparent leg injury. Marcus Sherels, the team's fifth cornerback, is currently playing the right cornerback spot in the Vikings' base defense while first-round pick Xavier Rhodes is only on the field in the team's nickel package, playing left cornerback while Josh Robinson moves to the slot.

All that has helped the Browns -- who are starting third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer --  tally up 161 yards passing and 17 points in the first 1 1/2 quarters of the game.

The Vikings' cornerback situation seemed like it could become an issue when the team cut Antoine Winfield in March, but what's been puzzling so far today is how the Vikings have used Rhodes. Evidently, they aren't comfortable moving him across the field in their base defense and asking him to play a different side of the field than what he's done in the nickel. Cook is usually responsible for facing an opposing team's best receivers, so the Vikings might not trust Rhodes to handle that yet.

In any case, they're struggling with Hoyer in their home opener, and their cornerback depth is a big reason why.

UPDATE: Cook was officially ruled out for the rest of the game at halftime. The Vikings will have to finish this one without him.