Vikings head coach Mike Tice took the podium for another Monday press conference and sounded more like a depressed coach than a coach whose team just made the playoffs.
If what Tice said last week is true — the line about not mattering how they get into the playoffs as long as they get in — he didn't sound that way after another road loss that finished the regular season at .500. Even with an 8-8 record, the Vikings are in the playoffs and will travel to Green Bay for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff Sunday.
"It's hard to find any joy in Muddville," Tice said. "We certainly feel better than we did last year coming home from Arizona."
Last year, the Vikings missed the playoffs after a last-second loss in Arizona ended their season at 9-7.
But their injury situation isn't good on defense this week.
Safety Corey Chavous has a broken bone in his elbow, and while he is being reported as out, Tice didn't sound so sure. Chavous will have more tests today and is among three players Tice dubbed "questionable at best" — but not yet out.
Cornerback Terrance Shaw suffered a rib injury in Washington and is also questionable for Sunday's wild-card playoff game.
Wide receiver Kelly Campbell, who suffered a shoulder injury, is the third "questionable at best" casualty from yesterday's game.
With Chavous not likely to play, the plan is for third-year player Willie Offord to start at safety and move recently re-signed cornerback Rushen Jones to backup safety.
The Vikings expect Antoine Winfield to start again and hope his ankle continues to improve, and they may get additional help if cornerback Ralph Brown, who missed the last three games with an eye injury, can return to the field, probably as a nickel back if Shaw can't go.
But even without his injuries on defense, Tice has to find a way to instill confidence in his players. Right now, they simply don't have it and Tice knows it.
"The fear of failure is a bad thing," Tice said. "I think many coaches go to their graves trying to figure that out, and I think I'll be the next one."
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