Winfield vows to play Saturday

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 4, 2013 - 6:03 AM

Cornerback's new cast on a broken hand gives him confidence for Packers rematch.

The Fox cameras caught a close-up of Vikings coach Leslie Frazier right before the Packers' 25th offensive snap of Sunday's regular-season finale at Mall of America Field.

Despite a 20-7 lead with 1 minute, 7 seconds left in the first half, Frazier wore the look of a father watching his 16-year-old back the family car out of the driveway for the first time.

No one outside of the Vikings bench knew it at the time, but cornerback Antoine Winfield's day had ended on the Packers' 24th snap three minutes earlier. The fractured right hand that Winfield thought he could play through with nothing more than a glove over a small pad was causing unbearable pain and looking like the belly of a snake that had swallowed a cantaloupe.

What Frazier knew then that the rest of us didn't was, like it or not, punt returner Marcus Sherels would finish the game as Winfield's replacement in a nickel package the team would use almost exclusively against Aaron Rodgers and his arsenal of receivers.

Sherels is the ultimate NFL scrapper, an overachiever who had to survive a weekend tryout before being signed as an undrafted rookie out of Minnesota in 2010. He's praised for his poise, intelligence and his skills to play in the slot, an obvious rarity among the team's current crop of big corners.

But Sherels also is the team's fifth-best corner. And, well, when it comes to experience, let's just say he was 12 when Winfield broke into the NFL as Buffalo's final first-round pick of the last millennium.

"Antoine makes a difference," Frazier said. "There's no question about that."

Amen to that. In the 18 snaps that Winfield played on Sunday, Rodgers completed seven of 13 passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. Rodgers also was 0-for-1 in a first-half red-zone play in which the Vikings went with six linemen, three linebackers and two safeties.

With Winfield out for good, Rodgers completed 21 of 36 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns while challenging Sherels on multiple occasions, including one play that resulted in a 73-yard completion to Jordy Nelson. Rodgers also outscored the Vikings 27-17, yet still lost 37-34 in a game the Vikings needed to make the playoffs and the Packers needed to get this weekend off.

But the Vikings aren't finished with the Cheeseheads just yet. An angrier, healthier Packers team will await the Vikings when they visit Lambeau Field for Saturday night's wild-card playoff game.

With leading receiver Randall Cobb expected back from ankle and knee injuries this week, Rodgers will have his top four receivers and tight end on the field for one of the few times this season.

Meanwhile, the Vikings will be listing Winfield as questionable after he missed all of practice this week. But don't fret, says Winfield.

"Absolutely, I am not coming out of this game," he said. "I have the whole offseason to recover. I'll be good."

Winfield's optimism also comes from a cast that he's been fitted for. He can still use his fingers and thumb while the cast offers support at the wrist and a hard shell over the spot he fractured two weeks ago in Houston.

NFL teams also have been known to have plenty of pain medication available.

"Oh, absolutely," Winfield said. "I'll be numb. Plus, it will be cold."

But just in case Winfield can't play, the Vikings worked on a contingency plan that sounds like it might help them avoid having to use Sherels as heavily as they did last week (32 of 64 snaps).

A.J. Jefferson, who splits time with rookie Josh Robinson at the left outside corner position in the nickel, got some extra reps in the slot this week. Brandon Burton, a second-year player, also took extra reps in the slot, but he's an unlikely option. He has played only four games this season and was inactive the past seven games. Robinson will remain an outside corner exclusively, Frazier said.

"Don't worry about Antoine," cornerback Chris Cook said. "I think he's found the Fountain of Youth. He says he's not coming out, I believe that."

Frazier won't find out if that's the case until Saturday night. But Winfield's determination and confidence in his new cast seem to have brought a better sense of calm to the head coach.

"I feel better," Frazier said. "He said it felt great. So that was encouraging. Very encouraging."

  • NFL WILD-CARD ROUND vikings at green bay

    7 p.m. Saturday at Lambeau Field • TV: Ch. 11 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM) • Line: Packers by 7 1/2

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 10 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: M. Gonzalez 2
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 1
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 10 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: N. Karns 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: A. Swarzak 2
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 5
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 8
Los Angeles - WP: C. Perez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5
Texas - WP: S. Tolleson 2 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Street 1
Philadelphia - LP: M. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Doolittle 8
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: C. Bergman 8
Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 2
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 37 FINAL
Carolina 19
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 4 FINAL
Carolina 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Washington 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Calgary 1 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Edmonton 0 FINAL
Calgary 1
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Toronto FC 3
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close