Injuries swell as bye nears
[size=10pt]Injuries swell as bye nears[/size]
BY SEAN JENSEN
The Vikings literally are limping into their final game before a much-needed bye week.
Four starters are ailing with leg injuries and are listed as questionable, and place-kicker Ryan Longwell missed practice Wednesday with strep throat.
Linebacker Ben Leber (strained knee), safety Darren Sharper (bruised quadriceps), tight end Jermaine Wiggins (strained hamstring) and cornerback Antoine Winfield (thigh injury) all were listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions. Rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson continues to recover from knee surgery, and he, too, is listed as questionable.
Jackson, Longwell and Sharper missed at least a portion of practice. Winfield, who started Sunday in Buffalo, was not believed to be at Winter Park on Wednesday, and he missed all of practice Tuesday.
During his news conference, just before noon, coach Brad Childress mentioned all of the injured players â€” except Winfield.
Calls to Winfield and his agent, Richard Katz, were not returned.
Longwell was not at Winter Park, either, but he is listed as probable, which means there's a "virtual certainty" that he plays against the Lions.
After missing last Sunday's game in Buffalo â€” a 17-12 Vikings loss â€” Leber practiced in full Wednesday, and he said, "Things look great.
"I can't say anything negative at all," he said. "It really felt good."
Sharper did not practice, but he said he has significantly improved since leaving Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., on crutches.
"It feels pretty good," Sharper said. "It's gotten better since game day. I feel there's a good chance I'll be out there on Sunday."
Sharper said he is getting "round-the-clock treatment."
He suffered the injury early in the second quarter, but he didn't come out until the fourth quarter. Rookie Greg Blue capably replaced him.
Sharper said he had a similar injury in high school which, he said, "kept me from getting a Division I scholarship."
"I'm still disappointed about that," said Sharper, who played college football at Division I-AA William and Mary.
Secondary change: Rookie Cedric Griffin was the first cornerback off the bench against the Bills, and he could get his second official start against the Lions if Winfield cannot play. Ronyell Whitaker and Griffin were diplomatic about the substitution pattern. But Childress indicated Griffin is progressing well.
"I think as he gains confidence he has the ability to do that," Childress said when asked if Griffin was the new nickel back. "The good thing is that we're able to move people around. Antoine and Ronyell have position flexibility from the standpoint that they can both play on the corner."
Clearly, Childress wants to keep Griffin focused on the outside spots, using Winfield and Whitaker as the slot cornerbacks. When Griffin came in Sunday, Winfield slid inside to cover the slot receiver.
"They have more experience there," Childress said of Winfield and Whitaker. "I'm sure Ced at some point will learn that inside slot, but that's a different animal in there."
Given Winfield's injury, the Vikings are thin at cornerback. To that end, the Vikings worked out second-year cornerback Patrick Body on Wednesday.
Body is interesting because he is 6 feet 2, nearly 200 pounds, and he runs a 40-yard dash in at least 4.4 seconds.
Meanwhile, another high-profile cornerback is available: former Green Bay Packers' first-round pick Ahmad Carroll. After a dismal performance Monday night in Philadelphia, the Packers cut Carroll Tuesday. Indications are the team was not happy with Carroll's attitude.
Possible change: The Vikings-Lions game isn't the only event affected by the Twins' series against the Oakland A's.
The annual Taste of the NFL event was scheduled for Monday. But if the Vikings' game is moved to that night, the Taste will be moved to Tuesday night at Winter Park.
Founded by local restaurateur Wayne Kostroski in 1992, the Taste of the NFL has grown since then and raises money for Hunger Solutions Minnesota.
Tickets are available for the event, and guests can follow updates by visiting www.tasteofthenflmn.com.
Briefly: Offensive lineman Donald Penn, who was on the Vikings' practice squad, was signed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 53-man roster Wednesday. Rookie guard Jimmy Martin took Penn's spot on the Vikings' practice squad.
â€¢ Offensive tackle Sean Bubin, who was on the Vikings' practice squad last year, has been signed to the practice squad of the New England Patriots.
â€¢ Dustin Fox, a third-round pick of the Vikings in 2005, was released by the Philadelphia Eagles and then added to the team's practice squad.
Re: Injuries swell as bye nears and Winfield misses practice but says he'll play
[size=10pt]Winfield misses practice but says he'll play[/size]
Defensive back Antoine Winfield missed a second day of practice Thursday because of a partially torn quadriceps muscle just above his left knee and remains questionable on the team's injury report. Winfield, though, said he will "definitely be ready to go" Sunday against Detroit. "Don't worry about that," he told reporters.
Today's practice should go a long way toward determining Winfield's status as the veteran plans to take part in drills.
"I need to get out there, move around and see how it feels," he said. "I haven't done anything the last two or three days. I'll definitely be out there running around, trying to cut on it, see how much pain I can deal with."
If there is any concern, the Vikings could make a roster move to add a cornerback. The team only has three other corners on its active roster -- Fred Smoot, Cedric Griffin and Ronyell Whitaker -- and won't want to leave itself shorthanded going against Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz. The former St. Louis Rams coach is known for his high-flying offenses and is not adverse to using four-receiver sets. The Vikings options include signing a corner or promoting rookie free agent Charles Gordon from the practice squad.
Griffin, a second-round pick last April, would start at left corner if Winfield can't go.
Although it was not divulged until the Vikings issued their first injury report of the week on Wednesday, Winfield was hurt in the third quarter of Sunday's 17-12 loss at Buffalo. He continued to play, but the swelling worsened on the plane ride home. Winfield began receiving treatment for the injury Monday morning, and an MRI revealed the damage.
Winfield said he does not think he can make the injury any worse but wanted to be on the cautious side by not practicing. He plans to have a wrap on the injury if he plays to help apply pressure.
Strong safety Darren Sharper, who was limited in practice Wednesday because of a bruised left quadriceps muscle suffered in Buffalo, went full speed Thursday and declared himself ready to go. "I felt I moved around pretty well," he said.
Sharper remains questionable on the injury report, meaning there is a 50 percent chance he will play, but so do five of the six players listed. That includes strong-side linebacker Ben Leber (knee) and tight end Jermaine Wiggins (hamstring), who have not missed any practice time this week. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (knee) was limited Thursday.
Kicker Ryan Longwell returned to the team after missing Wednesday because of strep throat and a fever that reached 102.1 degrees. He did some kicking and then went home to rest. Longwell said he will be fine for Sunday and is listed as probable, meaning it's a virtual certainty he will play.
â€¢ The Lions returned 400 tickets for Sunday's game. They can be ordered through Ticketmaster by calling 651-989-5151.
â€¢ If the Twins rally from a 2-0 deficit in the American League Division Series and force a Game 5 at the Metrodome on Sunday, the Vikings-Lions game would be produced by ESPN and carried locally on WFTC (Ch. 29) at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
Re: Injuries swell as bye nears
[size=10pt]Sharper, Winfield say they'll play[/size]
*From the Star Tribune, good read,
Re: Injuries swell as bye nears
Posted on Sat, Oct. 07, 2006
[size=13pt]'I'll be out there,' Winfield says[/size]
But Childress wants to wait a day before pronouncing cornerback fit for Lions game
BY DON SEEHOLZER
Cornerback Antoine Winfield's injured left quadriceps passed its first practice test Friday, and he said it wouldn't keep him from starting Sunday's game against Detroit.
The Vikings list Winfield as questionable, but he said practice went well and there should be no need to limit his snaps.
"I felt it every now and then, (but) I definitely should be able to deal with the consequences," he said. "If I couldn't play, I would definitely let them know. I'll be out there."
Coach Brad Childress said he wants to see whether Winfield and two other questionable defensive starters â€” safety Darren Sharper (quad) and linebacker Ben Leber (knee) â€” experience any overnight swelling before making any final determination.
Sharper practiced Thursday and Friday and Leber all week, so both are expected to start.
If the Vikings thought Winfield couldn't go, they likely would have signed another cornerback during the week. (They worked out former Cincinnati Bengals corner Patrick Body on Wednesday.) But they are a little light at the position, with Ronyell Whitaker and rookie Cedric Griffin the only backups behind Winfield and Fred Smoot.
Childress, asked if there is a minimum number of cornerbacks he could take into a game, cracked, "Yeah, none. I don't want to take none into the game."
The Vikings could activate rookie cornerback Charles Gordon from their practice squad, but Childress said, "We have not embraced any of those things as of right now."
Injury update: The Vikings removed kicker Ryan Longwell (illness) from their injury report and upgraded tight end Jermaine Wiggins (hamstring) to probable.
Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (knee) remains questionable and is expected to be inactive for the fourth straight game.
Robinson case: Wide receiver Koren Robinson's grievance against the Vikings and the NFL will go before an arbitrator in the spring.
The NFL Management Council informed Richard Berthelsen, general counsel of the NFL Players Association, that it has general denial of liability with regard to Robinson's grievance.
Berthelsen said that means Robinson's grievance will be appealed to an arbitrator. And because Robinson is currently playing for the Green Bay Packers, the matter will not be resolved until the spring.
Robinson's attorney, David Cornwell, told the Pioneer Press on Thursday that they were seeking a significant portion of the three-year, $12.7 million contract Robinson signed in March. The Vikings already have paid him $1.1 million.
Hit man: Just a quarter of the way into his rookie season, rookie safety Greg Blue already is developing a reputation for big hits.
In fact, last week's fourth-quarter smackdown of Buffalo wide receiver Roscoe Parrish topped ESPN's "Jacked-Up" segment.
Blue said a couple of his teammates had predicted as much and that he watched the broadcast Monday night.
"I love watching big hits," he said. "That's part of the big excitement of football right there. I love watching other guys trying to take somebody's head off."
The only thing he likes more, evidently, is doing it himself.
"The guys I liked when I was growing up, just watching them on highlights, were guys like Jack Tatum and Ronnie Lott," Blue said. "Those guys, they were true animals out there on the field. I wouldn't mind having a name just like those guys."
Briefly: The captains for this week's game are fullback Tony Richardson (offense), defensive tackle Kevin Williams (defense) and Whitaker (special teams).
Whitaker, who lost his job as nickel back last week after giving up the game-winning touchdown pass against Chicago, was back working with the first unit Friday.