Center up for grabs again

Jon Cooper (Joe Robbins/Getty)

The Vikings have tried three different centers already this season and 2009 rookie free agent Jon Cooper could be the starter Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. Cooper ended up playing the second half after the Vikings pulled Ryan Cook.

Unless he commits a penalty, more times than not, the casual fan doesn't notice the center all that much. His job is to snap the ball, stop and keep defenders from getting past him. It's a job with few perks and one big requirement – make the calls for the offensive line. The job is pretty straightforward. Make the call, snap the ball and either anchor in pass protection or push in run blocking.

It's not overly complicated. But it is critical. The Vikings have gone through four centers since the final preseason game since starter John Sullivan went down with a calf injury. At the end of the preseason, the Vikings used guard Anthony Herrera at center. After Sullivan went down against Detroit, college center and professional tackle Ryan Cook got moved in. He got pulled during Monday's game for Jon Cooper, the fourth lineman to play center and the one that could start Sunday when the Dallas Cowboys come to the Metrodome.

Head coach Brad Childress said Monday he thought Cooper did a solid job replacing Cook.

"I thought Coop played decently," Childress said. "I don't think we had center/quarterback exchange issues that I'm aware of there."

Although Brett Favre had a pair of fumbles in Monday's game, it wasn't deemed that those were the fault of Cook, but what got him pulled was not making the proper line calls and adjustments to pressure coming from the Jets defense.

"I don't think there was an exchange issue, but those were some of the things that we were seeing," Childress said. "A couple of protection calls, getting our line slid the correct direction."

For the third straight game, the Vikings look at the prospect of going in with a different starter at center. Childress said he hopes that Sullivan will be back to reclaim his starting job, but added that the uncertainty remains as to how long it will be until Sully is back snapping the ball to Favre.

"I wish I knew that," Childress said. "Potentially, he could make it back this week. (The calf injury) just hasn't settled down the way we want it to and I don't know if it will settle down. We're using every means necessary."

WEDNESDAY NOTES

  • In addition to losing cornerback Cedric Griffin for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, the Vikings could be without another defender Sunday. Defensive lineman Brian Robison posted on his Twitter page that he has a sprained ankle, which he suffered during the Jets game and took him out of action for the remainder of the game.

  • There has been much made about teams that start 1-3 making the playoffs, noting that only 21 since 1990 have done that. That's one each year. Not as daunting as it may sound, seeing as one of them was the 10-6 2008 Vikings that had Gus Frerotte at the wheel.

  • What should be more troubling is that the Vikings are 2-5 in their last seven regular-season games and, including the postseason, have lost seven of their last 11 games.

  • The Vikings-Jets game drew 17.3 million viewers on ESPN was the sixth-largest audience in cable TV history and the second largest audience to watch a game on ESPN this year. The largest? The Vikings-Bears game the last week of 2009, which fell in the 2010 Nielsen rating period.

  • As expected, the injury to Cedric Griffin's right knee Monday was confirmed as a torn right ACL, which means that, for the second straight year, he will be facing months of rehabilitation to repair the injury. But, unlike the injury he suffered to his left ACL, he will have 10-and-a-half months to repair the injury before training camp begins in 2011 (if there is a training camp in 2011).

  • The Vikings are expected to make a roster move soon to replace Griffin on the 53-man roster.

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