The Vikings completed their final practice today in advance of Saturday's game at Washington. Only this one came with a little twist. For a portion of practice, head coach Leslie Frazier let his defensive starters and offensive starters go at it, a rarity for late December in the NFL.
It's clear Frazier is willing to try anything to keep his team's attention down the stretch of this discouraging season. And he called Thursday's practice "spirited."
"When we do a competitive practice, ordinarily we just, whoever the opponent is, work some of their plays," Frazier said. "But this time we decided to create a situation where it was Vikings vs. Vikings. I don't really want to get into the specifics. But it was good. It created a lot of fire and emotion. That was positive."
As for which unit won Thursday's battle?
"I can't pick sides," Frazier said. "So they both won. We achieved the goal. And that was to pep things up a little bit."
Hey, for a team that has gone eight weeks since recording its last victory, the Vikings will take wins anyway they can get them. And they should have a chance to record a real victory Saturday against a Redskins squad that has lost eight of its past 10 games.
Injury update: For the second straight day, cornerback Asher Allen and guard Steve Hutchinson both sat out practice as they continue recovering from concussions suffered against New Orleans last weekend. Joe Berger is in line to start for Hutchinson this weekend. Allen's spot would likely be filled by a rotation involving rookie cornerback Brandon Burton and Cedric Griffin with fellow corners Benny Sapp and Marcus Sherels figuring to see significant action as well.
Burton made his first career start last weekend against New Orleans. And while he has been out of sorts at time in the Vikings' oft-torched secondary, Frazier likes the progress Burton has been able to show when called into duty more regularly this past month.
"I think the most positive thing about Brandon getting a chance to play is the experience he's gaining," Frazier said. "There are some things technique-wise and fundamentally that he'll have to continue to work on. But I'd like to see him get a chance to make some plays if some balls are thrown his way. And I'm sure he'll have some opportunities again Saturday. Overall, I think he's done a good job of going out there and not allowing the game to be too big for him. He gives us some hope that we'll have a guy who will help us have some depth in the future."