Antoine Winfield (Scott Boehm/Getty)
Vikings CB Antoine Winfield is still uncertain whether he’ll be able to play after going through a full-pads practice Thursday. He is just one of many players on an extensive injury report. Plus, are the Vikings considering safety Chris Harris with their open roster spot?
Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield said he experienced a “sharp pain” when he injured his neck Oct. 2 while making a tackle on Kansas City Chiefs running back Dexter McCluster.
Winfield hasn’t played in the three games since and continues to monitor his progress while he “hopes to” play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
“With this, I have to be careful. It’s my neck. I want to be able to move around after I get done playing,” said Winfield, one of the best tackling cornerbacks in the NFL despite being only 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier termed Winfield’s injury as a ligament strain, but Winfield said for the second straight day that it was “more than a strain.” However, he declined to go into further details.
Winfield sent his magnetic resonance imaging test to an independent doctor in California, who agreed with the team’s assessment of the injury. He has been limited the last two days in practice, but he tested the neck during contact drills for the first time Thursday while the Vikings practiced in full pads.
Asked if he met bullish running back Adrian Peterson for contact during practice, Winfield said, “Absolutely not. In our (defensive backs) tackling drill, so I’m hitting a guy that’s my size.”
The Vikings are allowing Winfield to make a decision on when he’s ready to play, and he said he has been meeting with coaches and trainers to discuss the decision.
After seeing Winfield practice, Frazier said he was “not as optimistic as I thought we’d be going into today’s practice” that the cornerback would play Sunday.
“(He) moved around OK. I’d like to talk with him a little when we get back inside and just see how he feels mentally as well as physically,” Frazier said after Thursday’s practice. “They have some real good backs and, as you know, an explosive receiver, and he’s going to have to tackle for us like the Antoine we know.”
While Winfield said he “hopes” to play, he also added that if the neck is sore after Thursday’s contact, then he probably wouldn’t play Sunday.
“It’s just getting the confidence back, knowing that I can put my head in there and I can protect myself, he said.
PETERSON LOOKING BETTER
Peterson, who suffered an ankle injury in Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers but returned to the game, returned to practice on a limited basis after sitting out on Wednesday.
Frazier said Peterson “moved around pretty good, so we should be fine. He’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
The report wasn’t as encouraging with receiver Percy Harvin, who also returned to practice on a limited basis after sitting out Wednesday with a lingering rib injury.
Frazier said Harvin was “still a little sore” and said he was a “little bit of a concern.”
G Anthony Herrera (knee), TE Visanthe Shiancoe (foot),DE Jared Allen (not injured) and RB Lorenzo Booker (concussion) didn't practice. Shiancoe is expected to return to practice Friday and Allen was missing because his wife Amy was giving birth to a baby girl.
Booker was suffering from concussion symptoms after being hurting in Wednesday’s practice, according to Frazier, and was “a little dizzy.” He was already undergoing post-concussion testing required by the NFL. Herrera isn’t expected to play after injuring his lateral collateral ligament in his left knee.
If Harvin and Booker don’t return kicks, Marcus Sherel, Stephen Burton and Toby Gerhart are all options.
In addition to Winfield, Harvin and Peterson, DT Remi Ayodele (ankle), LB E.J. Henderson (knee) and DE Brian Robison (shoulder) were limited.
Safety Husain Abdullah, who suffered a concussion on Sunday, has already been cleared to play.
For the Panthers, CB Darius Butler (not injured) and CB Jordan Pugh (head) didn't practice. LB Omar Gaither (knee) returned to full participation in practice.
ROSTER SPOT OPEN
The Vikings haven’t filled a roster spot that remains open after they released WR Bernard Berrian (and promoted WR Stephen Burton to the 53-man roster) and suspended CB Chris Cook this week.
“Not sure how we’ll go forward. We’re talking about some different things we want to do. Right now, we’re going to stay status quo as we speak,” Frazier said of the roster opening.
It doesn’t sound like former Chicago Bears safety Chris Harris will be a consideration for the Vikings.
“I’m sure we’ll have some discussions and just see, but safety is not such a need for us at this stage where we are. Not as big of a need,” Frazier said.
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.