Mike Hughes may jump right in as a rookie slot corner for the Vikings

September 5, 2018

Ready or not, Vikings rookie cornerback Mike Hughes’ NFL debut is sizing up to be an active one on Sunday against the 49ers. Hughes, who played a lot of slot corner this preseason, says he’s ready.

“I feel good,” Hughes said Wednesday. “Coach [Mike Zimmer] and his crew, they’ve done a good job of teaching me the scheme and new techniques, so I feel pretty good.”

Hughes, 21, might play defensively against the 49ers after slot corner Terence Newman moved to the Vikings coaching staff last weekend, and starter Mackensie Alexander was held out of practice again Wednesday due to a left ankle injury suffered in the Aug. 18 exhibition against Jacksonville.

The Vikings have groomed Hughes as a slot corner from Day 1 since drafting him with the 30th-overall pick this spring. He’s expected to play there if Alexander is unable to start. What’s certain is Hughes will return kickoffs. He fielded three kick returns this preseason for 69 yards, including a long of 30 yards.

“I’m very comfortable,” Hughes said. “Back in the day, I used to play offense. So, whenever I get the chance to have the ball in my hands, I try to go for six.”

Cousins preparing with Jones

Coach Mike Zimmer has remained mum on his starting center for Sunday, but quarterback Kirk Cousins is preparing to take snaps from newly-acquired Brett Jones against the 49ers. Jones worked with Cousins at the start of Wednesday’s practice while starter Pat Elflein eases back into padded sessions snapping to backup Trevor Siemian.

“I’m excited to build a rapport with Jones and the rest of the O-line,” Cousins said. “So that hopefully we can develop a continuity as the season goes on.”

Cook ‘to find out real soon’

Running back Dalvin Cook’s biggest hurdle will be getting into “game shape” as he plays on Sunday for the first time in 11 months since tearing an ACL. Cook took two carries in four snaps this preseason. He’ll likely be on a pitch count against the 49ers.

“We’re going to find out real soon,” Cook said. “It’s different, man. In practice, I’m trying to help myself by finishing runs and finishing plays to get myself in that type of shape. Once the game comes, it’s a different story.”

Alexander sidelined

Cornerback Mackensie Alexander (ankle) said he feels “good,” but he was still unable to practice Wednesday as the Vikings ramped up preparations for the 49ers. Alexander and running back Roc Thomas (ankle) were the two Vikings sidelined.

Four Vikings were limited on Wednesday in left tackle Riley Reiff (foot), center Pat Elflein (ankle/shoulder), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (hamstring) and cornerback Marcus Sherels (hamstring). Receiver Stacy Coley was a full participant as he works his way back from a groin injury.

Quick hits

— The NFLPA has renamed its highest honor after Vikings legend Alan Page to the “Alan Page Community Award.” Previously, the Byron “Whizzer” White Award had been bestowed by the players’ union to recognize the player who went above and beyond to perform community service in his hometown or NFL city.

— The Vikings signed former Gophers cornerback Jalen Myrick to the practice squad and placed safety Jack Tocho on the practice squad/injured list.

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