Cook, Rhodes CB Combo Gives Vikings Defense Flexibility

Posted Jun 20, 2013

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In his first year as defensive coordinator, Alan Williams teamed with Head Coach Leslie Frazier to draw significant improvement from the defense. The Vikings pass defensed jumped nine spots in TDs allowed, seven spots in opponent passer rating and three spots in passing yards allowed.

Another area where the Vikings defense improved was in making impact plays. If you combine sack, interception and fumble recovery totals, the Vikings reached 24.5 in 2012 after collecting just 19 the year prior.

The addition of rookie safety Harrison Smith aided the Vikings defense in their improved play last season. In 2013, it’s the addition of another rookie defensive back that could help yield further improvement. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes, selected by the Vikings in the first round this past April, has impressed since arriving at Winter Park.

"The one thing, I don’t know how much you watched today but he got his hands on some balls and he’s not giving up deep balls,” Williams said after Wednesday’s practice. "That’s the big thing because a lot of guys like to sit on passes and you see them intercept balls and you say ‘wow’ and then a lot of balls are going over his head. And he’s not giving up either. He’s tough down low and up top.”

Williams went on to explain that the pairing of Rhodes with another big, physical cornerback in Chris Cook will give the Vikings flexibility in their defensive calls.

"Both guys are tall. They are long. They can go get the ball, unbelievable ball skills so to be able to have two guys outside and don’t forget about Josh, don’t forget about the other guys that can really run,” Williams said. "They’re physical so you’re not limited to one type of defense. You can play a variety of things and when you can take the outside guys away it makes it easier for me to make the calls and mixing up the coverages.”