Winfield stepping in right direction

Antoine Winfield (Joe Robbins/Getty)

Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield is making progress in his comeback from a foot injury he suffered almost a month ago. He returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday.

The Vikings are remaining mum on the status on Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield, but one encouraging sign was that Winfield was on the practice field Wednesday in front of reporters for the first time in a little less than four weeks.

Winfield took part in Wednesday's practice on a limited basis, working with the training staff on the side and doing to some running and individual conditioning drills. It was the first time Winfield has practiced since suffering a right foot injury Oct. 18 against Baltimore. Since then, the injury has been a source of controversy.

The Vikings have maintained that Winfield's injury is a sprain to the foot and have disputed a report that he suffered a fracture in the foot and would be sidelined four to six weeks. Winfield missed the Pittsburgh and Green Bay games and spent the bye week in Minnesota getting treatment for the injury.

"We'll just see how he precedes. He's done a great job of attacking this thing and if at all possible he wouldn't miss one more snap," Vikings coach Brad Childress told Detroit reporters on a conference call Wednesday.

As has been the case the previous two weeks of preparation, Winfield was unavailable to the media to address the question of the health of his ailing foot. We likely won't know more until Friday when the team has to release his playing status as out, doubtful, questionable or probable, but there is growing speculation that Winfield may be a long shot to play Sunday, especially if he isn't at 100 percent and with the opponent being the 1-7 Lions.

THURSDAY NOTES

  • As hard it might be to believe, the Vikings could clinch the NFC North title before the month is out. The team has three homes game coming up in which they will be heavily favored – vs. Detroit, Seattle and Chicago. If they win those three games, they will have a record of 10-1. They would need only for Chicago to lose one of its other two games (vs. San Francisco tonight or Philadelphia next week) and have the Packers lose two of their next three (vs. Dallas, San Francisco and Detroit). While it is unlikely Green Bay will lose two of its next three, the potential is there for the Vikings to have the NFC North wrapped up before the Christmas shopping season is in full swing.

  • Another sign of the Vikings' success is that, for the second time in four games, they're going to have the start time to one of their games changed. The Vikings-Packers game Nov. 1 was scheduled for a noon Central Time start, but had it was pushed to 3:15 p.m. to garner a larger audience. It more than did that, as the game became the highest-rated show since the Academy Awards in February. FOX is hoping for similar results in two weeks, by moving the start of the Vikings-Bears game to 3:15 p.m. as well.

  • After admitting he suffered a groin injury prior to the Green Bay game, the Vikings continued to list Favre as limited in practice with a "hip" injury. Others listed as limited included Winfield, E.J. Henderson (knee) and Bernard Berrian (hamstring).

  • Darius Reynaud, who lost his punt returning job due to a hamstring injury early in the season, practiced in full for the first time since the injury.

  • The Lions had three key defensive players sit out Wednesday's practice due to injury – LB Larry Foote (knee), LB Ernie Sims (hamstring) and DE Dewayne White (toe).

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