Sapp has that playoff focus

Benny Sapp (Scott Boehm/Getty)

Cornerback Benny Sapp has been gearing up for the Vikings' opening playoff game for two weeks, despite not knowing what his role is going to be or who the opponent would be until last weekend.

One of the unsung heroes of the Vikings defense this season has been cornerback Benny Sapp. When Antoine Winfield went down in October, it was Sapp who stepped into his starting spot and kept the secondary from falling apart.

With Winfield scheduled to play a larger role in Sunday's divisional playoff game with Dallas than he has in the previous couple of games, Sapp said he isn't sure what his role will be – whether playing on the outside or moving inside as the nickel cornerback.

"I don't know," Sapp said of his role for Sunday's game. "I never know. They tell me where to go and I go. We have a great secondary. It's a great luxury. You just have to come in whatever is going on and adjust to the scheme and play ball."

Sapp said the Vikings took advantage of their bye week, but, for him, much of that time was spent locked in on the Cowboys. Although the game won't be played until Sunday, he said he's already played the game mentally throughout the week.

"I've probably played the game three or four times in my head already," Sapp said. "I'm just preparing and getting ready for another week. Each day that goes by you get that tunnel vision. Everything you're thinking about is the Cowboys. It's a great thing, because this is our job. We put in all this time and work to be able to focus in on the next opponent."

With the weapons the Cowboys have, Sapp said the Vikings will have to bring their "A" game Sunday. They got home-field advantage for this round, but nothing will be handed to them.

"Dallas is a very good team," Sapp said. "Nobody in this locker room is taking them lightly. We know what they can do and they have a lot of weapons. But so do we. They have to worry about us as much or more than we do. That's what playoff football is about. They have strengths. We have strengths. It's all going to come down to who executes on Sunday. If we play our game, we're going to be hard to beat."

FRIDAY NOTES

  • Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe was the 2009 recipient of the Korey Stringer Good Guy Award, given annually by the local media to the Vikings player who is the most cooperative and has the best attitude with the media each season.

  • The Vikings injury report was essentially the same as Wednesday with the exception of fullback Naufahu Tahi, who was added to the injury report and missed practice with a back injury. The other six players that were limited in practice Wednesday – Steve Hutchinson (shoulder), Antoine Winfield (foot), Shiancoe (quadriceps), Pat Williams (elbow), Chris Kluwe (back) and Jimmy Kennedy (thumb) – were also limited in practice Thursday.

  • The Cowboys are about as injury-free as a team can be at this point in the season. Nobody sat out practice and the only player who was limited with running back Marion Barber, who is expected to play Sunday.

  • Adrian Peterson is the cover story in this week's edition of Pro Football Weekly, in which it is discussed whether Peterson is having an off year despite rushing for almost 1,400 yards and scoring 18 touchdowns.

  • The Vikings are reminding fans to beware of counterfeit tickets for Sunday's game. The sale of fake tickets is a growing problem and many fans were turned away from the Packers game with counterfeit tickets. There are several organized groups working out of New York, Atlanta and Detroit selling fake tickets at the sights of big sporting events and concerts and the NFL is conducting its own investigation trying to break up the rings. The Vikings urge fans that are buying tickets late to do so through the Vikings ticket office, Ticketmaster or the NFL TicketExchange. Purchasing tickets from someone other than those vendors is done at the buyer's own risk.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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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