Vikings playing at less than full strength

Tyrell Johnson (Scott Boehm/Getty)

The Vikings will likely be without a couple of key starters on Sunday and as many as a dozen playing at less than full strength. Injuries are coming home to roost in December.

Perhaps no game this season has been more critical for the Vikings than Sunday's game with the Bengals. Not only do they need a win to keep Arizona at arm's length for the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs, they will do so as banged up as they have been all season long.

No fewer than 14 players were listed on the team's final injury report Friday, with speculation made that several key players may miss Sunday's game.

Safety Tyrell Johnson is likely to miss after sustaining a concussion in last week's game at Arizona. He is listed as doubtful and will likely be replaced by rookie Jamarca Sanford in the starting lineup against Cincinnati.

Adding to the concern in the secondary is that Antoine Winfield (foot), Cedric Griffin (neck) and Karl Paymah (knee) are all listed as questionable for Sunday after being limited in practice for the last three days. There is little in the way of a contingency plan if one of more of them misses the game Sunday, but there is growing optimism that after being sidelined almost two months Winfield will make his return to action Sunday.

There are also questions on the offensive line, where Phil Loadholt is also listed as questionable with a shoulder injury. Steve Hutchinson (shoulder) and Bryant McKinnie (ankle) were also listed on the injury report, but both are listed as probable and expected to play Sunday.

Return specialist Percy Harvin has been battling migraine headaches all week and was unable to practice. He is listed as questionable and will likely be a game-time decision.

Others listed on the injury report as probable include Brett Favre (non-injury related), Adrian Peterson (foot), Anthony Herrera (concussion), Pat Williams (foot) and Visanthe Shiancoe (ribs).

At a time when overall health is at a premium, the Vikings are as dinged up as they have been all year, which could make earning a first-round playoff bye as critical as ever. If ever the Vikings could use a week off to heal up and recharge their batteries, it is now – which makes Sunday's game as important as any they've played this year. However, if they are going to win, they're going to have to do so a little shorthanded and with a lot of players going at less than 100 percent.

SATURDAY NOTES

  • The Bengals will be without starting defensive tackle Domata Peko (knee) and backup running back Bernard Scott (foot) – both of whom are listed as out for Sunday's game.

  • The Bengals are banged up in the secondary as well. Both starting safety Chris Crocker (ankle) and backup Kyries Hebert (knee) are listed as questionable on the injury report.

  • Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson was one of 26 players named to the inaugural USA Football/NFLPA all-fundamentals team, which honors players for their fundamentals on the field and their involvement in the community. Hutchinson has been named to six straight Pro Bowls and has done extensive work with the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital.

  • The Vikings had a pair of CFL defensive backs in for workouts this week as they prepared for the Bengals this week – Calgary's Brandon Browner and Hamilton's Markeith Knowlton.

  • From the "You Can't Make This Up" Department comes this: A Rhode Island prostitution sting designed at nabbing johns trying to find female companionship resulted in eight arrests, include Robert Sormanti, 47, who is one of the New England Patriots mascots. Sormanti is one of the sideline performers that don the Pat Patriot costumes on the sidelines at games. Sormanti is expected to be permanently relieved of his sideline duties.

  • Former Viking Bobby Wade has been credited with nine dropped passes this year, among the highest in the league. While with the Vikings, Wade was known for his sure hands, making his struggles with the Chiefs somewhat surprising.

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