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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Winfield has it all covered from his corner of the world

    [size=18px]Winfield has it all covered from his corner of the world[/size]

    The Vikings' veteran defensive back is the complete package, and he is worth every million the club spent on him in free agency.

    Patrick Reusse, Star Tribune
    Last update: December 11, 2005 at 11:37 AM


    Winfield has it all covered from his corner of the world
    John Cooper was a head football coach for 29 seasons, the last 13 of which were at Ohio State. Late in his tenure, Cooper said Antoine Winfield was the best cornerback he had coached with the Buckeyes.

    "Shawn Springs was a great corner for us, and he got upset with me when he read that," Cooper said. "I told him, 'You were the best cover guy, but when you look at everything -- coverage, tackling, making plays -- Antoine was the best corner.' "

    Cooper paused and said: "All the players I've had through the years, he's in my all-time top five.

    "Here's what I say about guys like Antoine Winfield: 'He can play better than you coach.' "

    Winfield was an eye-catcher for selected Minnesota football fans long before he signed a free-agent contract with the Vikings in the 2004 offseason.

    Ohio State came to the Metrodome in November 1997 to take on Glen Mason's first bunch of Gophers.

    Minnesota's only threat appeared to be receiver Tutu Atwell. He had three catches for 51 yards in the first half. Cooper put Winfield on Atwell in the second half, and his total was one catch for 4 yards.

    He also made his presence felt in helping to stuff the Gophers' then-modest running game.

    "I've loved the hitting part of football since I was 4-foot-3 and weighed 58 pounds in pee-wee ball," Winfield said after that game.

    Winfield is listed officially at 5-9 and 180 pounds -- and the program height is generous.

    "He's one of those guys who isn't big enough to play, and if you timed him, he's probably not fast enough to play, but somehow he's made himself a great player," Cooper said.

    "Instinct is part of it. I coached defensive backs as a position coach. For a long time, I thought I could teach instinct, but you can't.

    "You can give me a player who is big and strong and can run, but if he can't get to the right spot and make a play, he's no good to me. Antoine has the instinct to be in the right spot, and he's tough when he gets there."

    Winfield is now in his seventh NFL season of performing with this well-located toughness. He has 76 tackles -- roughly the same pace as last season, when he finished with 99.

    The difference in 2005 is that he's leading the Vikings in tackles, with one more than middle linebacker Sam Cowart. The advantage for a player in the middle is that he can jump on the pile and get credit for an assist.

    Cowart has 50 solos among his 75 tackles. Winfield has 69 solos among his 76. And: Antoine has an additional 11 tackles (10 solos) as the safety on kickoffs.

    Winfield was asked how the pounding wears on him. "Monday is always a tough day," he said. "I get a massage and, by Tuesday afternoon, I start feeling normal. I'm not big on using ice on the sore spots. I hate the cold."

    That might be true, but in the cool confines of Green Bay and Philadelphia last January, Winfield was more than a warrior. He had 21 solo tackles, an interception and a forced fumble in the Vikings' two playoff games.

    Even Red McCombs could not regret spending his millions on Winfield. And how was it that Red's underlings convinced the skinflint owner to write a check for $10 million for Winfield's signing bonus in 2004?

    "We were well under the salary cap, and we presented a strong case about the conviction we had in the player," Vikings Vice President Rob Brzezinski said.

    "Antoine has been exactly what we thought we were getting: tough, physical, a good presence in the locker room. It was our biggest check ever for a free agent, and no one has a complaint."

    Winfield could become the third cornerback to lead a defense in tackles since he came into the league in 1999. The first was him -- with 106 tackles in Buffalo in 2001 -- and the second was Seattle's Marcus Trufant last season.

    He would be the first corner ever to lead the Vikings in tackles. What concerns him more is for the team to continue the defensive surge that started with the first victory over Detroit on Nov. 6.

    "My reaction after that game was, 'We finally felt comfortable executing our defense,' " Winfield said. "We had been through the minicamps, training camp, exhibitions, six or seven games, but with all the new players from different systems ...

    "We were out of position here and there. That's what cost us. It's different now. We're a unit."


    Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 5:40 p.m. • [email protected]

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    VKG4LFE's Avatar
    VKG4LFE is offline Jersey Retired Tetris Champion, Monkey GO Happy 4 Champion
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    Re: Winfield has it all covered from his corner of the world

    Good article. Hard to disagree with much in there. Winfield is a fricken' stud, that's all there is to it.

    I get the most pissed off looks from people with my VKG 4 LFE Wisconsin license plate, and I LOVE IT!!

  3. #3
    Paulbedy59's Avatar
    Paulbedy59 is offline Coordinator
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    Re: Winfield has it all covered from his corner of the world

    He is priceless,Happy as hell to have him.our best all around corner.
    If winning isn,t everything,why keep score?

  4. #4
    V4L's Avatar
    V4L
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    Re: Winfield has it all covered from his corner of the world

    Winny is the man dude.. Nice read

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