Xavier Rhodes (Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports)
CB Xavier Rhodes has passed the first test after a concussion Sunday, but has another stage to pass if he is to play against the Bears. The Vikings could use him in a thinned secondary.
The Vikings’ weakened pass defense is in wait-and-see mode as they hope their best cornerback over the last few weeks, rookie Xavier Rhodes, can play Sunday.
Rhodes missed Wednesday’s practice as he continues to progress through the NFL-mandated post-concussion protocol, but the Vikings did get some encouraging signs. Rhodes and receiver Joe Webb, who also suffered a concussion Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, both passed the cognitive portions of the test.
“We’re encouraged by some of the results we got (Tuesday) afternoon, but there are still some things they have to go through (Wednesday), and if they can pass today we have a chance to maybe get them on the practice field (Thursday),” head coach Leslie Frazier said.
Rhodes and Webb were in the Vikings’ Winter Park fieldhouse Wednesday, but instead of practicing they were going through the excursion stage of post-concussion testing. Until they are cleared from their concussions, they aren’t allowed to talk to the media, per NFL rules, but their presence there was an encouraging sign.
The Vikings have already lost cornerbacks Chris Cook and Josh Robinson, along with safeties Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford, for multiple games due to injuries. Cook and Sanford have returned, but Smith and Robinson won’t be playing again this Sunday. Smith remains on injured reserve/designated to return but could start practicing Friday. He isn’t allowed to play until the Dec. 15 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Robinson remains out with a fractured sternum but could start practicing soon, too.
The Vikings signed cornerback Kip Edwards to their practice squad to help with depth if needed, but Robert Steeples, who has been with the team longer, would be the more likely cornerback to be promoted from the practice squad if needed.
“You know with the way that we are health-wise, and where we’re at numbers-wise, you have to keep your options open,” Frazier said. “It’s a possibility depending on what happens this week in practice. Right now we have the numbers we need, so we’ll see. Barring an injury, we should be OK with the numbers that we do have.”
The Vikings also have cornerback Shaun Prater on the active roster, but he has been a special teams player to this point after he was claimed off waivers from Philadelphia on Oct. 22.
“I think he’s up to speed enough now where we could put him in for some snaps on defense,” Frazier said. “He hasn’t been with us that long, but we’ve been force-feeding him along the way. So we think he could get in the game and function.”
Along with Robinson, Rhodes and Webb, RB Adrian Peterson and TE Kyle Rudolph didn’t practice Wednesday. Rudolph might start practicing next week on his way back from a fractured foot and the Vikings have been giving Peterson more time off from practice in recent weeks as he recovers from a groin injury.
Additionally, DT Kevin Williams was limited Wednesday with a quadriceps injury.
The Vikings have a practice Thursday morning before getting the afternoon off to celebrate Thanksgiving.
For the Bears, QB Jay Cutler (ankle) and LB Lance Briggs (shoulder) were officially ruled out for Sunday’s game.
RB Matt Forte (knee), CB Derrick Martin (hamstring) and S Anthony Walters (groin) didn’t practice for Chicago on Wednesday.
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.