Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He has temporarily returned to cover the Minnesota Vikings. He had the beat from 2008-2011 after covering college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.Find Chip on Facebook.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
Perhaps Kevin Williams will get that second straight start at nose tackle, after all.
Starting nose tackle Letroy Guion (chest/knee) has been listed as out for Sunday's game at Seattle. Also out is tight end Kyle Rudolph, who is recovering from a broken foot.
Listed as doubtful is running back Matt Asiata (shoulder). Listed as questionable are: NT Fred Evans (knee) and TE Rhett Ellison (ankle).
Listed as probable are QB Christian Ponder (left shoulder), RB Adrian Peterson (groin), LB Erin Henderson (illness), fullback Jerome Felton (back), CB Chris Cook (hamstring), LB Chad Greenway (wrist), G Charlie Johnson (elbow/toe), OT Phil Loadholt (concussion), SS Jamarca Sanford (groin) and WR Greg Jennings (Achilles).
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier wouldn't come out and say Christian Ponder will start on Sunday at Seattle. But he did admit that's the likely scenario, barring an unforeseen change in Ponder's progress from a separated left [non-throwing] shoulder on Saturday.
"Christian is better," Frazier said after today's practice. "We gave him a little bit more today in practice, so that was encouraging. We'll see how he feels tomorrow with the extended work he got today and then we'll make a determination based on where he is tomorrow. We want to make sure that he feels comfortable as well as our medical staff as well.
"The way he moved around today, he looked pretty good. Hopefully, he'll wake up tomorrow without any residual effects, negative effects from the workload that we gave him. But you never know."
Frazier wouldn't say whether Matt Cassell or Josh Freeman would serve as the backup, although Cassel looks to be the No. 2. Frazier also said it's possible the team will keep all three quarterbacks active against Seattle.
In other news:
For this week's edition of "Behind Enemy Lines," we reached out to Bob Condotta, Seahawks beat writer for the Seattle Times. Here are five questions we posed to Bob in advance of Sunday's Vikings-Seahawks game at CenturyLink Field:
1. What impact, if any, do you think Percy will have in this game, based on what you've observed as far as the progress of his health, his fit in Darrell Bevell's offense, his motivation to play his former team and any chatter you've heard about the speed with which the team is willing to move him along?
If he does play, I would expect they would ease him in a little bit, maybe 20 plays or so. He hasn't played in any game in more than a year and hasn't obviously played for the Seahawks. So I would doubt they would give him a totally full plate right off the bat. I am sure he would be highly motivated to want to make his season debut against his former team, though as of yet we have yet to be able to speak to him about that. As far as how he will fit into the offense, Bevell has said all along that he envisions it being similar to how he was used when each of them were in Minnesota --- primarily as an inside receiver, but sometimes out of the backfield and lined up outside, as well.
2. Describe the job Bevell has done utilizing quarterback Russell Wilson's strengths, the weapons around him and whether or not he's been able to keep defenses off-balance with his play-calling. Also, from what you're hearing and from talking to Darrell, do you think he's ready to be a head coach and will he get some interest next offseason?
Bevell generally gets high marks from those who watch the team for how he has constructed an offense that takes advantage of Wilson's running, while not relying on it so much that it puts him at too much risk. This year has been a little uneven offensively at times because of all the injuries --- the starting OL has played just one game together, Sidney Rice is out for the year, Harvin has yet to play, Zach Miller has been hurt, etc. Other than the opener, they have almost always had to adjust to some injury issue somewhere. But at the moment, Wilson's passer rating is even higher --- 101.8 --- than the franchise record of 100.0 it was last season. Bevell has not publicly discussed head coaching hopes. But having never met an assistant who didn't want to be a head coach eventually, I'd be surprised if he were any different. He was rumored to be on a couple of lists last season (including Arizona's and Chicago's) but was then given an extension and raise by the Seahawks through 2014. Contracts, though, are made to be broken when it comes to getting an NFL head coaching job, and it's hard to imagine he won't be a hot candidate after this season.
3. Describe what happened in the preseason with Antoine Winfield. How poorly did he play, how much of a surprise was it that he didn't make the team and how much guaranteed money did the team have to eat when it released him?
I don't think Winfield really played all that poorly. But what's important to remember is some of the context of when he signed --- namely, that Seattle needed someone to replace Marcus Trufant and wasn't sure what they had in Walter Thurmond, a promising young player who played only eight games the past two seasons due to injury. Thurmond, though, showed during the OTAs and mini-camp that he was healthy, and that changed the dynamic greatly. Thurmond simply beat out Winfield for the job. Seattle also had other young corners it wanted to keep for the long term, so if Winfield wasn't going to be the primary nickelback this year --- which he wasn't once Thurmond proved he was good to go --- then it made sense to keep the younger, cheaper players with more long-term potential to help the team than Winfield.
4. How vulnerable are the Seahawks against the run? Which is closer to their identity against the run, giving up 200 yards in back-to-back games against St. Louis and Tampa Bay or giving up 64 against the Falcons?
That's been a really weird thing that seemingly cropped up out of the blue in the games against St. Louis and Tampa Bay. Prior to those games, Seattle was sixth in the NFL against the run, notably holding the 49ers to 100 yards in the 29-3 win in week two (with much of that yardage coming on a long Colin Kaepernick run in garbage time). Then came the Rams and Bucs games, in which both rushed for 200 or more. Seattle talked about getting back to basics against the Falcons, and it also helped that its linebacking corps was healthy and playing well again, and statistically got the job done holding Atlanta to 64. The caveat there is that Atlanta is the worst rushing team in the NFL, at 64 yards per game. So Minnesota and Adrian Peterson will be a little truer of a test.
5. If you had to describe 2-3 traits that you've noticed that explains why so many teams misjudged Russell Wilson so badly on draft day, what would they be? And how does he look this year compared to last year?
1, His height. 2, His height. 3. His height. I really think that's all there really was to not like about him. He'd proven to be a winner, tough, an accurate passer, great athlete. But teams were simply scared off by his height and the thought that he would always be limited, that he couldn't be successful as a pocket passer. Seattle GM John Schneider has ties to Wisconsin and knew a lot about Wilson and was willing to take a flyer on him when others were leery. Seattle had also just signed Matt Flynn, so at the time they weren't necessarily counting on Wilson to be their starter. I think by any objective measure Wilson has been better this season, especially in the contest of the revolving door on the offensive line. Wilson has been among the most-pressured QBs all season, making his elusiveness a more valuable trait than ever for the Seahawks. The protection was better last week against Atlanta and you saw what happened --- a season-best 134.6 passer rating.
We'll have the official injury report up soon, but it appears Christian Ponder's left shoulder is making steady progress.
Ponder left the practice field before reporters were allowed into the team's indoor practice facility. But Josh Freeman talked to the media after spending extra time working with quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson after practice.
Asked who took the majority of snaps at quarterback with the first-team offense, Freeman said, "I’m not exactly sure who took the most. Christian probably got the majority [of first-team reps]. Glad to see he’s feeling better. I’m just continuing to whatever they give me, gobble it up and try to be as efficient as possible."
Earlier, Frazier had said the coaches still need to talk about who would start Sunday if Ponder isn't able to play. Ponder separated his non-throwing shoulder in a collision at the goal-line in last week's win over the Redskins. He left the game with 1:12 left in the third quarter and did not return.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier didn't come straight out and say it, but the team is preparing rookie Cordarrelle Patterson to start ahead of veteran receiver Jerome Simpson, who was formally charged today with two counts of DWI from his early Saturday morning arrest.
Frazier said the team is consulting with the league to see what it can and can't do with regard to any disciplinary measures beyond what the league can do per the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Frazier went on to say that Simpson is expected to be play on Sunday at Seattle, based on the team's understanding of the CBA after discussing the matter with the league office Wednesday morning. Asked if he would still be the team's starting receiver at the `X' position, Frazier hesitated.
"I don't know how we'll handle that part of it," Frazier said. "I do expect him to play. We'll make a decision on that part of it [starting] as we go forward."
Asked if Patterson, who played a season-high 39.6 percent of the offensive snaps in last Thursday's win over Washington, would get more reps with the first team in practice this week, Frazier said, "We intended to continue to get him more reps, and you saw it in the Washington game and the prior one, trying to get him more reps. That was a part of the plan anyway, and it definitely will be a part of the plan now, with some of the concerns that we have."
Frazier also voiced his disappointment in Simpson for the second time in three days.
"It’s very disappointing," Frazier said. "As I mentioned the other day, anytime something negative happens that creates a negative light on our organization, on our team, it’s a concerning matter. This case, it’s very disappointing. But it happens and you have to be able to adjust and deal with it, and not let it set you back as a team or an organization. But without question its disappointing.”
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