Tyrell Johnson (Steven Bisig/US Presswire)
The Vikings lost CB Antoine Winfield for the season and likely will be without S Husain Abdullah for a game, leaving the secondary admittedly thin. Plus, both teams Sunday have a big injury report, the Vikings make a large donation, two Vikings lead in positional Pro Bowl balloting, stadium hearings are set and much more in a big Winter Park Wednesday.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was anticipating a much better performance from his secondary in 2011. Injuries and off-the-field issues have scuttled those hopes.
Cornerback Antoine Winfield was officially placed on injured reserve Wednesday after suffering a fractured clavicle Monday night, prompting the team to sign cornerback Benny Sapp as Winfield’s replacement.
With Chris Cook still away from the team while dealing with his legal issues after an arrest for felony domestic assault and Cedric Griffin’s play waning after surgeries to repair the anterior cruciate ligaments in both of his knees over the last two years, the Vikings are razor thin at cornerback.
“We’re thin right now. To lose Antoine is a big blow,” Frazier said.
The Vikings already have the 30th-ranked pass defense in the NFL, and the issues as cornerback could hurt them further. But that’s not the only position in the secondary that is hurting.
Safety Husain Abdullah suffered his second concussion in a month, both sustained in the two separate games against the Packers, which will likely result in Tyrell Johnson getting back into the starting lineup.
Johnson entered this season having started 24 of 38 games played, but he was beaten out of a starting job by Jamarca Sanford during a training camp battle. Johnson filled in as a starter in the first Green Bay game for an injured Sanford. Now he could be starting alongside Sanford, with Johnson likely moving over to Abdullah’s free safety spot, which isn’t much different from the strong side the way the Vikings use their safeties.
For Johnson, who will be a free agent in a few months, it’s another opportunity to put his abilities on tape for other teams.
“I’m not going to focus on other teams too much. I view it as an opportunity to help the team win,” Johnson said. “I’m just going to go out there and do my best at the task at hand. When that time comes, hopefully I’ve done enough where teams can see that this guy is dependable. But, like I said, it’s not my main focus right now. It’s just taking it a game at a time and then whatever happens at the end of the season is what happens.”
Rookie Mistral Raymond, who was going to be worked into the defensive rotation at safety anyway, will also see more playing time Sunday against Oakland.
For Frazier, it’s just another bump in a road filled with potholes and rumble strips out of place.
“You have an idea of how you want things to look, but the good thing is we’ve got some guys with some good attitudes who are back there (in the secondary) working hard,” Frazier said. “We’re a little thinner than we’d like to be right now, but we’re going to battle. The Raiders have some very good wide receivers, fast wide receivers. We have to find a way to slow them down.”
With backup talent.
GROWING INJURY REPORT
G Anthony Herrera (knee), Abdullah (concussion), LB Erin Henderson (hamstring) and long snapper Cullen Loeffler (shoulder) didn't practice Wednesday. WR Michael Jenkins (knee) was limited. QB Christian Ponder (left hand) was a full participant and stayed after practice for additional throwing.
It’s no surprise, but with his ongoing legal issues, Cook has already been ruled out against the Raiders.
The Raiders had an even more extensive injury report, listing 11 players.
WR Jacoby Ford (foot), K Sebastian Jankowski (hamstring), RB Darren McFadden (foot), DT Richard Seymour (knee), QB Jason Campbell (collarbone) and CB Chris Johnson (groin/hamstring) didn’t practice. CB Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring), S Matt Giordano (quadriceps), S Michael Huff (ankle), S Michael Mitchell (ankle), C Samson Satele (knee) and CB DeMarcus Van Dyke (hamstring) were all limited.
The Vikings announced a gift of $200,000 for the Minnesota Vikings Adopt A Room at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. The endowed gift from the Vikings will furnish a patient’s room with modern technology and comfortable amenities.
Frazier and Vikings players will visit the hospital Friday afternoon to unveil the room.
“Watching a child battle a serious illness is one of the most difficult challenges a family can face,” Frazier said in a statement. “The Adopt A Room program allows for a better experience for the patients and their families during those challenging times. Adopting a room is a great way for the Vikings organization to support Minnesota families and show our continued commitment to children’s health.”
The Vikings will also donate $240,000 from the Vikings Children’s Fund to the University of Minnesota Department of Pediatrics for promising research to treat and cure childhood disease. The Vikings and the VCF have now donated nearly $800,000 to charitable organizations in 2011.
Adrian Peterson leads all running backs in Pro Bowl balloting with 469,177 votes as of Wednesday afternoon. Jared Allen led all defensive ends with 314,173 votes.
Three out of the top four players in Pro Bowl balloting are in the NFC North. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers was first, Detroit WR Calvin Johnson was second, and Peterson was fourth. Patriots QB Tom Brady was second.
The Raiders returned 400 tickets for Sunday's game at Mall of America Field. They are available at Ticketmaster.com
The Minnesota Senate called for hearings on the Vikings stadium issue on Nov. 29 and Dec. 6. “We appreciate the Minnesota Senate moving forward with public hearing regarding a new publicly owned stadium in Minnesota,” Vikings director of corporate communications Jeff Anderson tweeted. “These hearings should be a productive opportunity for public input and will allow the Vikings to present the facts on the issue.”
Security at the Metrodome will use hand-held metal detectors from now on at Vikings games instead of the traditional patdowns.
Christian Ponder shaved his beard after the loss to the Packers on Monday Night Football. “It’s never fun losing, so I had to get rid of it,” he 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.