Vikings defensive backs Winfield, Sanford both are doubtful

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 21, 2011 - 10:57 PM
hide

Vikings safety Jamarca Sanford returned one of his two interceptions against Arizona earlier this month.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

As the Vikings head into Sunday's game against the Packers, here are four questions we're trying to answer.

1 Sunday's game seems like a lopsided matchup in so many ways. Given the Vikings' injury woes, what is the biggest area of concern?

Friday's big news: Cornerback Antoine Winfield is doubtful to play again because of lingering stiffness in his neck. Winfield returned to practice on a limited basis this week but still is not ready for game action. Safety Jamarca Sanford (concussion) might not be either and is also tagged as doubtful.

So the Vikings secondary is missing two key cogs about to face a Packers offense that features a deep and talented receiving corps. With Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback. Oh boy.

Given the way Rodgers spreads the ball around and the frequency with which Green Bay gives him four targets to choose from, labeling the Vikings secondary as vulnerable is generous.

Tyrell Johnson likely will start in place of Sanford with rookie safety Mistral Raymond in line to be activated for the first time this season. Second-year corner Marcus Sherels should expect to see considerable time in dime packages.

Circle the more impressive starting unit: Packers receivers Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and James Jones plus tight end Jermichael Finley; or Vikings defensive backs Cedric Griffin, Chris Cook, Husain Abdullah and Johnson.

 

2Is quarterback Christian Ponder wired to remain confident during prolonged stretches of struggle?

For the past month, Ponder has become a Twin Cities favorite, the bottle of Excedrin fans have been reaching for to treat their pounding headaches. And now that Ponder has his chance to start? Well, quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson sat down with the rookie earlier in the week with a reminder.

"Everywhere I've ever been, everybody loves the backup quarterback," Johnson told Ponder. "And guess what? You're not the backup anymore."

Yep, Johnson expects the critic line to start building around 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Mall of America Field. After all, he and Ponder are realistic enough to acknowledge that errors are forthcoming. But throughout the organization, people say there's confidence that Ponder has the perspective and maturity to accept his mistakes without agonizing over them.

Said Johnson: "The bottom line is learn from it. Try not to make the same mistake twice. Move on and when you have that storm or that slump -- and it is coming -- guess what? We'll get through it. We'll go down, we'll get the pictures, you'll get a drink of water."

3 Speaking of quickly moving, are there concerns about Ponder relying too much on his mobility?

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said Ponder has a sixth sense for sensing pressure. But Musgrave also hopes the rookie understands that what would have been a 12-yard scramble in college might now be a 1-yard gain -- with a big-time wallop added to the end.

"If you looked at the film at Florida State, he was a fearless runner. Fearless," Musgrave said.

''Which is an attribute. But at this level, with the guys playing defense, you have to be smart. Otherwise, you won't stay upright. You won't stay in the league very long, healthwise."

4And who will be snapping Ponder the ball?

With center John Sullivan doubtful to play while still recovering from a concussion, Joe Berger should get the call. Berger, remember, didn't join the Vikings until Week 2 after the team waived Jon Cooper. Berger started 14 games in Miami last season but was cut by the Dolphins in early September. The Vikings quickly reacted, believing Berger's experience and size (6-5, 305 pounds) could be valuable. Now, they will test that theory on the big stage.

Said coach Leslie Frazier: "As long as he doesn't feel that the pressure of the world is on my shoulders and I have to do [more] than my job, he'll be fine. ... He's a smart guy, a tough guy and he knows our offense."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 106 FINAL
Boston 101
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
Indiana 94
Portland 110 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Orlando 83
Oklahoma City 108 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Denver 92
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Anaheim 3 FINAL
Dallas 1
St. Louis 5 FINAL(SO)
Vancouver 6
SMU 73 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 66 FINAL
Wake Forest 69
Oregon 73 FINAL
Stanford 70
Purdue 61 FINAL
Ohio State 65
Arizona State 81 FINAL
Colorado 87
Washington St 67 FINAL
UCLA 72
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
UMBC 73
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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 NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close