While Cook’s injury was later reported to be less serious than initially feared, he was still placed on the team’s Reserve/Injured (injured reserve) list and has missed the last four games.
While the recovery of injured players typically unfolds under a shroud of secrecy, fellow safety Mike Edwards has opened the curtain on Cook’s progress.
“He’s doing great,” Edwards said of his teammate before Wednesday’s practice. “He’s doing real good. He got to go back home to Cincinnati to see his family and everything. So that’s good. I’ve been talking to him all the time.”
Because both Cook and Edwards are natives of the Queen City, the Chiefs’ Week 17 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals had extra significance for them. Although Cook was unable to play in the game, he still made his presence felt before his team’s 25-17 division-clinching victory.
“[Cook] got to be in our locker room before the game, which is big,” Edwards recalled. “[He] talked to [the defensive backs] and gave us a pregame speech before the game. So it’s good having him.”
The injured safety’s pregame speech appears to have been in response to Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase’s disparaging comments earlier in the week about the Kansas City secondary.
“Just go out there and play strong,” said Edwards of Cook’s words. “Don’t worry about any outside noise leading up to the game. He was just saying we all need to lean on each other on the back end because you know they’re going to test our DBs with the receivers they have and explosive players they have. [He was] just telling us to get our mindset right — which we did; we came out there with the right mindset.”
Although there were scuffles between the two sides throughout the game — one of which saw Edwards draw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct — the veteran feels the his teammates handled the situation well.
“It’s an emotional game anytime you have a guy like that chipping before the game,” he explained. “We handled it the right way. You let him talk before the game — and we handled it on the field. I barked a little bit during the game. I’m from Cincinnati, so I’ve got to give him a little bit. I felt like we handled it the right way. They got me on the personal foul which is... whatever. We came up with the win.”
Following remarks such as the ones Chase made, emotions can get the better of players on the field — but Edwards also credited emotion as a key factor in the defensive unit’s outstanding season.
“Emotion is definitely a big part,” he remarked. “We want to also be the No. 1 defense. We want to be the top defense in creating turnovers [and] sacks — any way possible to be the No. 1 defense. Just get the ball back to our offense [for] as many points as possible. We just go out there and play as best we can.”
After taking on a large part of Cook’s role over the last month, Edwards — who spent his first four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — has proven to be a valuable depth signing. But the fifth-year pro knows it is never easy to replace an injured player.
“It’s tough,” he admitted. “[Cook’s] a good football player. Anytime one of our players goes down, it’s big. They trust in me. I trust in our team. I trust in our defense — in our scheme. I feel like that’s what they brought me here for: to fill in roles like that. Don’t miss a beat; don’t miss a step. A guy like that going down is big, but [I] just step in and play my role — and try to make as many plays as possible.”