Injuries, arrest put secondary in flux

Xavier Rhodes (Jon Dahlin/Viking Update)

The Vikings are getting too thin for comfort in their defensive backfield after an injury Sunday and arrest early Monday, making a signing likely there.

The Vikings could be looking at yet another starting combination in their defensive backfield as another injury and an arrest that led to A.J. Jefferson's release are affecting the options.

According to Eden Prairie police, a 23-year-old female reported that she was a victim of domestic assault at 4:30 a.m. Monday and Jefferson was arrested on probable cause for domestic assault. He remained in custody at the Hennepin County Jail early Monday afternoon and was released from the Vikings roster Monday morning.

"I can't really comment on his release (from the team) or what happens from this point on regarding him," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "But I can inform you that that is a fact, he was released."

While Jefferson's case will continue through the legal process, his days with the Vikings are done. From a football standpoint, that further thins a secondary that was already without safety Harrison Smith, perhaps the team's best defensive player, and Josh Robinson, who suffered a fractured sternum Nov. 17 at Seattle.

On Sunday, the depth was tested further when rookie Xavier Rhodes suffered a concussion. With a roster spot open following Jefferson's release, the Vikings will have to entertain the thought of adding a cornerback to the roster.

"We're going to have to consider it with Josh being down and our situation back there. We'll definitely have to consider it," Frazier said. "Even for practice purposes, you get thin enough where you can't really line up and have the kind of practices that you want to have."

The Vikings did get some good news in recent days, but it won't help them this Sunday when they host the Chicago Bears. Robinson might be out only a couple more weeks. When he was hurt, putting him on season-ending injured reserve was a possibility.

"He's making good progress, had a good report about he and Kyle Rudolph today so they're both making progress," Frazier said. "The IR conversation is kind of on the back-burner."

Smith is expected to return to practice on Wednesday after rehabbing his extreme case of turf toe, but because he was put on injured reserve/designated to return, he isn't eligible to play until the Dec. 15 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

If Rhodes isn't able to post the NFL-mandated post-concussion protocol by the end of the week, the Vikings would be down Chris Cook, Marcus Sherels and Shaun Prater on the active roster, with Robert Steeples on the practice squad, making a roster addition at cornerback likely before Wednesday.

The Vikings used safety Robert Blanton against slot receivers on Sunday, and that could be another option going forward.

NOTES

  • Prater hasn't played a snap for the Vikings on defense yet after being claimed off waivers from the Eagles on Oct. 22.

  • The Vikings might also get MLB Erin Henderson back after he didn't practice last week or play Sunday because of a personal matter.

    "I haven't had a chance to speak to him, but everything I've heard has been positive," Frazier said at his weekly day-after press conference. "So I'll sit down and talk with him (Monday) afternoon. But I'm excited about our guys working as hard as they are, competing the way they competed against a divisional opponent yesterday and look forward to the work ahead of us this week during Thanksgiving week."

  • In addition to Rhodes, WR Joe Webb also suffered a concussion. He and Rhodes are the most significant injuries to come out of the Packers game.

  • Frazier said TE Rudolph, who suffered a fractured foot on Nov. 3, could start practicing next week.


    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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