Confident secondary has big test

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 8, 2011 - 11:55 AM

In Philip Rivers and Co., the Chargers boast a prolific offense. But the Vikings defensive backs promise they'll be up to the challenge.

Chris Cook wasn't familiar with NFL power rankings. So when a teammate recently told him about a Week 1 ranking that gave the Vikings very little credit, his first reaction was, "What's that?"

Which soon became: "What's this?"

"Everybody is sleeping on us," the Vikings cornerback said. "Apparently we're 26th and [San Diego] is No. 3. I was like, 'Whatever.'"

There was a smile, a bit of an eye roll. Perhaps a suggestion: Wait until Sunday.

What's that line about being careful what you wish for? The Vikings open the season at San Diego, consensus favorite to win the AFC West and owners of one of the most potent passing attacks in the NFL last season.

Philip Rivers is coming off a season in which he was second in the league in passer rating (101.8), first with 4,710 passing yards and fifth with 30 TD passes.

And the receiving corps is filled with guys who dwarf their competition. Vincent Jackson, back after a 2010 season marred by his holdout, is 6-5. So is Malcom Floyd. Antonio Gates is a dominant tight end at 6-4. And the running back combination of Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert looks to be formidable.

"[The Chargers] are a challenge for any defense, let alone coming off what we're coming off from a health standpoint," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "Terrific receivers, terrific quarterback. No. 1 offense from a year ago. We'll find out where we are, early on.''

The Chargers have an aggressive style, a smart, quick-thinking quarterback and all sorts of weapons to which to throw. The Vikings, meanwhile, have two cornerbacks coming off knee injuries in Cedric Griffin and Cook, and continuing questions at safety.

"They're explosive," said veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield, generously listed at 5-9. "All their receivers are 6-4 or better. ... I'm sure we'll be up to it."

Of course, that has to be the belief. But, at the very least, it is a heck of a difficult start for a secondary still coming together.

Winfield and Griffin -- who is coming back from a second torn anterior cruciate ligament that limited him to two games last season -- are the starting cornerbacks. Cook, the nickel back, sustained torn cartilage in both knees that limited him to six up-and-down games as a rookie last season. Even Frazier said the coaches were waiting to see exactly what they have, even though Frazier knows the potential of the group, referencing the one game last year -- a home victory over Detroit -- in which all three were on the field together.

Neither Griffin nor Cook -- who nursed a sore hamstring in camp -- saw extensive action in the preseason. At strong safety, Jamarca Sanford and Tyrell Johnson went through camp battling for the starting job before Sanford emerged by a nose.

The Vikings, reacting to injuries all season, finished 22nd in pass defense in 2010. Now their top three corners are healthy for the opener, but have they had enough time together?

"I talk to Antoine all the time about that," said Cook, who plays outside with Winfield moving into the slot in nickel situations. "We can go out and be the best three [cornerbacks] in the league if we all do what we can do."

Given the San Diego approach, the Vikings could be forced into some sets with six defensive backs. In that case, Marcus Sherels likely would be the final extra back, lining up in the slot. At the very least, the Vikings figure to be in nickel better than half the time.

One thing is for sure. The team will know a lot more about its defensive backs after this game.

  • VIKINGS WEEK 1

    3:15 p.m. Sunday at San Diego TV: Ch. 9 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

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Kansas City 3 2nd Qtr 3:07
Oakland 14
Cleveland 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Tennessee 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Detroit 11/23/14 12:00 PM
New England
Green Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Jacksonville 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Cincinnati 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tampa Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Arizona 11/23/14 3:05 PM
Seattle
St. Louis 11/23/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Miami 11/23/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Washington 11/23/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
Dallas 11/23/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
NY Jets 11/24/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Baltimore 11/24/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
LA Clippers 65 3rd Qtr 9:18
Miami 49
Chicago 9:30 PM
Sacramento
Minnesota 1 2nd Prd 4:29
Philadelphia 1
Tampa Bay 1 3rd Prd 19:41
Toronto 4
St. Louis 1 3rd Prd 14:00
Montreal 3
Nashville 2 3rd Prd 18:24
Ottawa 3
Detroit 2 2nd Prd 3:48
Winnipeg 3
Arizona 1 2nd Prd 20:00
Dallas 0
Washington 0 1st Prd 3:18
Colorado 0
Chicago 2 1st Prd 5:39
Calgary 1
Anaheim 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Carolina 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Florida 9:30 PM
San Jose
Texas A&M 53 FINAL
Dayton 55
USC 46 FINAL
Akron 66
Coll of Charleston 57 FINAL
Connecticut 65
Drexel 46 FINAL
Miami-Florida 66
New Mexico 65 FINAL
Boston College 69
Penn State 97 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Detroit 62 FINAL
Michigan 71
Eckerd 59 FINAL
UCF 76
VU of Lynchburg 51 FINAL
East Carolina 92
Texas 71 FINAL
Iowa 57
Jacksonville 43 FINAL
NC State 79
Navy 51 FINAL
Providence 88
Grambling St 30 FINAL
Purdue 82
UMass Lowell 57 FINAL
Sacred Heart 54
Keystone 69 FINAL
St Francis-PA 102
Niagara 61 FINAL
Saint Peters 59
Palm Beach Atlantic 85 FINAL
Stetson 96
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Tennessee 70
MD-Eastern Shore 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 106
SUNY-Westbury 49 FINAL
Wagner 83
Bluefield (VA) 57 FINAL
William & Mary 100
Bob Jones Univ 41 FINAL
USC Upstate 107
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Bryant 72
Fordham 50 FINAL
Maryland 66
Howard 39 2nd Half 5:12
Radford 47
Champions Bapt 29 FINAL
UT Martin 115
George Mason 55 2nd Half 5:00
West Virginia 79
South Florida 42 2nd Half 11:43
UAB 40
UC Davis 52 2nd Half 6:30
Eastern Ill 53
Fla Atlantic 43 2nd Half 5:14
Harvard 60
SMU 50 2nd Half 10:50
Indiana 48
Franklin Pierce 45 2nd Half 8:50
Minnesota 84
Brescia 40 2nd Half 9:17
Murray State 69
North Florida 52 2nd Half 8:19
Northwestern 48
Fisk 42 2nd Half 10:22
Tennessee St 50
New Orleans 48 2nd Half 10:50
TCU 72
Miss Valley St 36 2nd Half 12:21
Tulane 63
Bucknell 41 2nd Half 11:54
Villanova 42
Northwestern St 60 2nd Half 11:30
LSU-Alexandria 52
Winthrop 28 2nd Half
Savannah State 26
Southern U 15 2nd Half
Ole Miss 37
Morgan State 30 2nd Half
Northern Iowa 29
Cornell 23 2nd Half 18:52
South Carolina 37
Southern Miss 21 1st Half 8:54
Alabama 29
Loyola Marymount 11 1st Half 6:07
Arizona State 22
Lipscomb 8 1st Half 7:53
Vanderbilt 23
Texas-Arlington 13 1st Half 10:58
Grand Canyon 10
Syracuse 8:35 PM
California
Idaho 8:35 PM
Northern Ill
Fresno State 9:00 PM
Northern Ariz
Pacific Union 9:00 PM
Pacific
Denver 9:00 PM
St Marys-CA
CS-Bakersfield 9:30 PM
San Diego St
Nicholls 10:00 PM
UCLA
Bowling Green 20 FINAL
Toledo 27
Kent State 0 Postponed
Buffalo 0
(12) Kansas State 20 3rd Qtr 6:18
West Virginia 10
North Carolina 28 3rd Qtr
(25) Duke 7
Arkansas State 8:30 PM
Texas State
Kent State 0 Cancelled
Buffalo 0
Texas-El Paso 11/21/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Air Force 11/21/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
San Jose St 11/21/14 8:30 PM
Utah State
Char Southern 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(9) Georgia
South Alabama 11/22/14 11:00 AM
So Carolina
Rutgers 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(10) Michigan State
Minnesota 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(21) Nebraska
Northwestern 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(18) Marshall 11/22/14 11:00 AM
UAB
Kansas 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(23) Oklahoma
Indiana 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Penn State 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
(14) Eastern Ky 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Florida
TX-San Antonio 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
SMU 11/22/14 11:00 AM
UCF
Virginia Tech 11/22/14 11:30 AM
Wake Forest
Washington St 11/22/14 12:00 PM
(13) Arizona State
Louisiana Tech 11/22/14 12:00 PM
Old Dominion
Western Mich 11/22/14 12:00 PM
Central Mich
New Mexico 11/22/14 12:30 PM
(22) Colorado State
Eastern Mich 11/22/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Appalachian St 11/22/14 1:00 PM
Louisiana
Tulsa 11/22/14 2:00 PM
Houston
(15) Arizona 11/22/14 2:30 PM
(20) Utah
FIU 11/22/14 2:30 PM
North Texas
(8) Ole Miss 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Arkansas
Louisville 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Notre Dame
Maryland 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Texas Tech 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Iowa State
(14) Wisconsin 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Syracuse 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Boston College 11/22/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Georgia State 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Tulane 11/22/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Stanford 11/22/14 3:00 PM
California
Western Carolina 11/22/14 3:00 PM
(2) Alabama
ULM 11/22/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
So Florida 11/22/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
Colorado 11/22/14 3:30 PM
(3) Oregon
Fla Atlantic 11/22/14 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Samford 11/22/14 6:00 PM
(16) Auburn
Miami-Florida 11/22/14 6:00 PM
Virginia
Vanderbilt 11/22/14 6:30 PM
(4) Miss State
(19) Missouri 11/22/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
Oklahoma State 11/22/14 6:30 PM
(6) Baylor
(24) USC 11/22/14 7:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Cincinnati 11/22/14 7:00 PM
Connecticut
Boise State 11/22/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 11/22/14 9:30 PM
Washington
Fresno State 11/22/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
UNLV 11/22/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Ohio U 11/25/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(5) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Montreal 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/23/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Webber International 41 FINAL
Florida A&M 52
San Jose St 80 FINAL
UC-Riverside 100
Norfolk State 65 FINAL
Radford 74
Washington Adventist 43 FINAL
Morgan State 66
Alabama State 62 FINAL
Savannah State 71
VA Commonwealth 72 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Southern U 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 91
Monmouth 78 FINAL
Long Island 57
Bethune-Cookman 51 FINAL
Jacksonville 64
St Thomas (TX) 49 FINAL
Incarnate Word 64
Boston U 56 FINAL
Boston College 73
Clemson 41 FINAL
(2) South Carolina 99
(7) Duke 82 FINAL
Old Dominion 66
Belmont 35 FINAL
(12) Louisville 95
Fla Gulf Coast 69 FINAL
Auburn 72
Florida 66 FINAL
St Johns 72
James Madison 69 FINAL
American Univ 65
Philander Smith 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 76
Tougaloo 6:00 PM
Grambling
Virginia 71 FINAL
Xavier 59
Murray State 66 FINAL
Wright State 74
Providence 54 FINAL
Hartford 57
Holy Cross 53 FINAL
Dartmouth 69
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
Northern Ill 50
Detroit 57 FINAL
Ohio U 60
St Bonaventure 58 FINAL
Toledo 64
Mary Washington 59 FINAL
Navy 79
Michigan 64 FINAL
Pittsburgh 85
Davidson 68 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 67
Longwood 50 FINAL
Richmond 80
USC Upstate 69 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 60
(17) West Virginia 41 2nd Half 14:17
Miss State 48
Concordia-Austin 21 2nd Half 10:18
TX-Pan American 53
Western Ill 61 2nd Half 11:32
Chicago State 36
Albany 40 2nd Half 11:45
Western Ky 41
Drake 39 2nd Half 8:41
SIU-Edwardsville 57
Memphis 40 2nd Half 11:21
Illinois 43
Arkansas 42 2nd Half 10:36
Middle Tennessee 32
LSU-Alexandria 41 2nd Half 12:35
McNeese State 41
Vanderbilt 56 2nd Half 7:48
Wisconsin 51
Utah 46 2nd Half 5:53
Creighton 53
Weber State 0 1st Half 20:00
Air Force 0
(10) Texas 27 1st Half 6:15
(6) Stanford 19
Utah Valley U 22 1st Half 8:45
Utah State 23
New Mexico St 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
South Dakota 9:00 PM
Washington
Santa Clara 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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