Brett Favre (Paul Sancya/AP)
Brett Favre’s career might already be over if you believe the “doubtful” designation he received on the final injury report of the Vikings’ final game this season. Interim head coach Leslie Frazier was short on specifics, leaving Favre’s real status for Sunday up to interpretation.
Brett Favre is officially doubtful for Sunday’s season finale in Detroit, meaning there is a 75 percent chance that NFL fans have already seen the last of Favre on a playing field.
That assumes, of course, that Favre doesn’t make some sort of final-hour recovery from his concussion like he did two weeks ago with a sprained shoulder when he was listed as “out” on the final injury report and then moved to questionable the day of the Vikings’ Monday night game against the Chicago Bears on Dec. 20. Favre suffered his concussion that night when he was sacked and thrown to the frozen TCF Bank Stadium turf in the second quarter.
He hasn’t played since and hasn’t been able to pass the league’s mandated post-concussion tests, so this time the decision isn’t just a matter of being to play through pain.
Interim head coach Leslie Frazier said earlier this week that Favre would have until Saturday to pass the concussion test, but he was vague in answering questions about Favre’s status after Friday’s practice.
“I'm going to just leave it as doubtful for now, without going into any detail about it. But he'll just remain doubtful for this game,” Frazier said.
Asked if he can still take the concussion test on Saturday, Frazier said, “That would be assuming that he hasn't done it already and hasn't passed. But if we leave him doubtful, it should cover things with him. Never rule him out. We won't rule him out.”
But according to the percentages listed on the official injury report, a doubtful player has only a 25 percent chance of playing.
Favre attended Friday’s practice but didn’t participate, with Frazier still classifying him as a game-time decision.
“He was out there at practice today, around the guys, involved, paying attention in meetings,” Frazier said. “So he's been positive. He's had a lot going on, but he's been positive.”
If Favre can’t go, rookie Joe Webb would get his second straight start. In his first NFL start on Tuesday night, Webb completed 17 of 26 passes for 195 yards and rushed for 31 yards and a touchdown in a 24-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, a game the Vikings entered as a two-touchdown underdog.
“You would think you can build on the game that he just had. He should come away from that with a lot of confidence. He's a young player so it will be interesting to see how he responds after having that type of success against a good football team,” Frazier said. “That's a part of this process when you're dealing with a young player. How will he respond to adversity? We saw him come back after the Chicago game and play a heck of a game against Philly. Now how will he respond when you have a very good game? That's part of our learning Joe and Joe learning himself in the NFL.”
If Favre’s career is over, he finishes with NFL record marks of 508 touchdowns, 336 interceptions, 71,838 passing yards, 297 consecutive regular-season starts (that came to an end Dec. 13) and 23 games with four touchdown passes or more.
In addition to Favre being doubtful, the Vikings listed safety Madeiu Williams (concussion) as out and plan to put him on injured reserve. That move would allow them to promote cornerback Marcus Sherels to the active roster and be available if cornerback Asher Asher (abdomen) can’t play.
Safety Tyrell Johnson (knee) and wide receiver Sidney Rice (concussion) are also listed as doubtful.
"Still going to be up to the coaches and the docs. I have to go in here now and talk to them again,” Rice said after Friday’s practice.
"I took (the concussion test) one time, I failed it and like I said I have to go see what the situation is now."
Allen is listed as questionable, are reserve linebacker Erin Henderson (concussion) and fullback Naufahu Tahi (ankle). Running back Adrian Peterson (knee) is listed as probable.
The Vikings had four players being held out of practice the last two days because of concussions. The NFL has an established protocol that players have to pass after suffering a concussion, but Frazier said he agrees with the NFL’s new procedures.
"Well, it definitely affects whether guys can play or not. There's a good reason why we have the caution that we have right now with concussions,” Frazier said. “You take a look at some of the former players and you see the repercussions with some of the concussions that they've had and you realize that the way we approach concussions today is far better than the way it was approached when I played. This is better for player safety the way we do it now, just to make sure a guy's clear, he's able to come back and perform. There was a time we'd be out a couple of plays and you'd be back, as soon as you could count to 10, you'd be back on the field. Today is much better for our players and their futures."
Jamarca Sanford is in line to get another start Sunday with Williams out. Sanford made his first start of the season on Tuesday night filling in for the concussed Williams and came away satisfied with his performance.
“It’s something I can build off. Just looking forward to going out and having a better week from last week,” Sanford said. “Overall, coach told me I played well. Just a few (things) technique-wise I can clean up. Other than that, he told me he liked my effort to the ball and just keep doing what I’ve been doing and just continue to improve.”
Sanford could be auditioning for a job next year as the Vikings continue to search for a permanent duo at safety.
“I never take nothing for granted. I’m going to take this offseason and work hard like I did last offseason. Just come into next season and stay humble and hungry and try to improve,” Sanford said. “I try to get better every year and try to top the stats that I had last year and this year, like I’ve said, it’s been an up and down year for me. A few injuries , but that’s part of football. I’m just going to attack the offseason and continue to progress and get ready for next year.”
Sanford had at least one play he would like to have back. He was in position to tackle Michael Vick during a 10-yard touchdown run, but the elusive Vick put a move on Sanford and got into the end zone.
“That’s what Vick do,” Sanford said. “After the play, you see me hitting the ground. I should have made the play. He just made a great play. Great players make great plays. He defeated me on that play. I just had to shake that off and if I get another opportunity, I have to tackle him, but that’s what Vick do in the open field. That’s a hard tackle to make.”
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.
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