Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook rejoined his teammates last week for workouts for the first time since he was arrested and charged with felony domestic assault in October and subsequently found not guilty.
Cook was charged with domestic assault by strangulation and third-degree assault after an October incident in which he was accused of punching and choking his girlfriend, Chantel Baker. He was found not guilty in March and is now transitioning back in the team's offseason conditioning program, the first time he has worked out with his teammates since his suspension from the Vikings.
Cook was suspended without pay for two weeks in 2011 — one game due to the bye — and then paid for the remainder of the season before being put back on the payroll but made inactive on game days and told to stay away from the Vikings' Winter Park facility for the final eight weeks of the season.
"I definitely appreciate it a lot more than I have in the past,” Cook said. “This is what I love to do, even though this isn’t the really fun part, It’s kind of hard, but I love doing this. This is the part of the year when you get better."
While Cook has been back working out with the team for more than a week, earning back the trust of his teammates will be the ongoing challenge.
"I feel like I have to earn their trust again. I definitely let them down last year by being in the situation I was in and missing the 10 games. I’m really looking forward to earning their trust and being a contributing factor to the team," he said.
"I won't say it's hard. I'm just out here working, trying to show them how hard I was working when I wasn't here. Just doing what I have to do to earn their trust back."
Cook said he isn't lobbying to earn that trust, rather just hoping a good work ethic during the workouts is enough to show them he is ready to contribute.
Cook said he didn't think most of his teammates wanted to contact him while the legal process was playing out, but Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was in regular contact.
"It was positive. He's a very encouraging man, and I respect him a lot. He's not really been down on me. He's very supportive of me," Cook said.
Frazier said Cook would enter the season as a starter "barring some unforeseen situation."
Cook started three of the six games he played in 2011 before his arrest, registering 19 tackles, including one for a loss, and seven passes defensed.
In his rookie season, he started five of six games before injuries to both knees caught up to him.
Frazier said last week that the transition with Cook working alongside his teammates has gone well.
"It seems that it's been relatively smooth. The guys have been good. There haven't been any alarms, any conversations. He's working right along with everybody. There haven't been any alarms at this point," Frazier said.
The 34th overall selection of the 2010 draft was the highest pick the Vikings had spent on a cornerback since Dewayne Washington was taken 18th overall in 1994.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.