Vikings secondary a little unsettled

Benny Sapp (Scott Boehm/Getty)

The Vikings aren't saying who will start at left cornerback and they likely will rotate safeties between Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford. The uncertainty is a bit of surprise heading into the playoffs.

The postseason isn't the time that one would expect to see lineup changes, but the Vikings could see typical backups in the secondary getting more playing time in their divisional playoff game with the Cowboys.

Safety Tyrell Johnson is expected to start against the Cowboys, but he will be in a time-share with rookie Jamarca Sanford. Sanford replaced Johnson earlier in the season when Johnson was injured, and in the season finale against the Giants the two played a near-equal amount of plays on defense. Johnson has been identified as one of the defensive players that has been accused of sloppy tackling during the Vikings' December slide, which has led to Sanford seeing more playing time.

There are also lingering questions at cornerback, where Antoine Winfield and Benny Sapp are both practicing as though they will be the starting left cornerback. Winfield has been limited with a foot injury suffered back in October and had a difficult time in coverage in losses to Carolina and Chicago. Sapp played well in Winfield's absence and neither knows precisely what their roles will be. When asked if he expected to start on the outside or be used as a nickel corner, Sapp said he wasn't sure.

"I don't know from one week to the next," Sapp said. "I prepare for both and just do what the coaches want me to do."

Earlier in the week, the Vikings hinted that Winfield would play a greater role in the base defense Sunday, but, at the portion of Friday's practice that was open to the media, Sapp took the snaps with the first-team defense at left corner.

Brad Childress said Friday that the rotation at safety and cornerback is by design and will hopefully get the best out of all of the players involved. However, when facing their biggest game of the season, it does seem a bit strange that there are more questions than answers in the Vikings secondary.

NOTES

  • Mike Tice is coming back to the NFC North after spending four years as the assistant head coach in Jacksonville. Tice was signed to be the Bears offensive line coach Friday. Tice spent 14 seasons with the Vikings as a player and coach and was head coach for four years following the firing of Dennis Green.

  • Marvin Lewis of the Bengals was named NFL Coach of the Year after leading the Bengals to the AFC North title.

  • Chad Ochocinco is at it again, but this time it's for a good cause. Ochocinco was announced earlier this week as the Pro Bowl replacement for injured Wes Welker and he and Tennessee running back Chris Johnson are going to have a race. The loser will donate his Pro Bowl paycheck to assist those in need in Haiti, following the devastating earthquake that ravaged the small county earlier this week.

  • As has become a habit with him, Randy Moss announced Friday that he will opt out of the Pro Bowl due to injury. Moss has routinely passed on the Pro Bowl when selected in recent years.

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