Brinkley gets shot to show he can cover

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 22, 2012 - 12:05 AM
Our snapshot look at the Vikings as they prepare for Sunday's game against the 49ers at Mall of America Field:


There have been worries about linebacker Jasper Brinkley's abilities in pass coverage. That was a major concern in July as the Vikings headed into training camp with Brinkley inked in as their starting middle linebacker. Now, with Erin Henderson ruled out for Sunday because of a concussion and Brinkley inheriting Henderson's snaps in the nickel defense, there will be plenty of pressure this weekend. Brinkley, who missed all of 2011 because of a hip injury, doesn't want to be pigeon-holed as a guy who is only reliable against the run. So here's his opportunity.

"This will be his chance to show his teammates along with everyone else that, 'Ya know what, I can do more than play on first and second downs,' " coach Leslie Frazier said Friday.

Keep in mind, the 49ers have one of the premier pass-catching tight ends in football. Vernon Davis has eight catches for 116 yards and three touchdowns already this season.

Marvin Mitchell, who will start at weak-side linebacker in place of Henderson, also will be under the microscope, seeing his first regular-season action with the Vikings.


Can the Vikings find a way to contain Justin Smith?

There might not be a defensive lineman in the NFL more consistently disruptive than Smith, a 12th-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowl player. Smith has started 173 consecutive games and remains a force up front in San Francisco's 3-4 defense.

"He's so strong," Frazier said. "And he plays so physical that it's hard to single-block him for any length of time. Even if you have pretty good position, he does a good job of using his hands, working his feet. And his power? It's impressive."

Left guard Charlie Johnson will line up across from Smith for much of Sunday. But Johnson rarely will be left alone in trying to slow down the 49ers end.

"We haven't seen anyone just block one guy on him and say, 'You're going to handle Justin throughout four quarters,'" Frazier said. "We don't think we're in that position either."


If you're into placekicking, Sunday's game should be a treat. San Francisco's David Akers led the NFL in scoring in 2011, making a league-best 44 field goals in 52 attempts. Akers started 2012 with even more fireworks, tying an NFL-record with his 63-yard field goal just before halftime of a Week 1 victory at Green Bay.

Vikings rookie Blair Walsh, meanwhile, has been plenty reliable himself. He has hit all six of his field goal attempts so far, including bombs from 55 and 51 yards in the first two weeks.

Walsh has also had 11 kickoffs this season with seven touchbacks and only one returned beyond the 20.


Chew on these statistics for a minute. San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith hasn't throw an interception since the first half of a Thanksgiving night loss to Baltimore last season. Smith has thrown just five interceptions in 502 passing attempts since the start of 2011.

The Vikings defense, meanwhile, has come up with just two picks in its past 13 games, a woeful drought that needs to end soon.

So just how does Smith account for his noticeable growth the past two seasons?

"I'm not trying to do too much, which I had done in the past early on in my career," Smith said. "Just doing my job and not trying to force things."


Henderson's concussion is by far the most significant injury. The starting linebacker banged his head making a tackle on Indianapolis' second-to-last drive last weekend. He was formally diagnosed with a concussion Wednesday and will have to wait until next week for clearance.

The only other Vikings starters listed on the injury report are John Sullivan (ankle), Brian Robison (elbow) and Chris Cook (biceps), who are all probable.

In the fine department, both Brinkley and Matt Kalil incurred $7,875 punishments for unnecessary roughness in Week 2. Kalil drew a 15-yard personal foul flag for his third-quarter late hit on Martin Tevaseu. Brinkley was involved in an early scrap with Colts tight end Dwayne Allen in which he aggressively grabbed Allen's facemask but then had his helmet ripped off. Allen drew the penalty on the play, but both players were fined.

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New Orleans 28 FINAL
Carolina 10
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
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Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 105 FINAL
Orlando 98
Detroit 91 FINAL
Minnesota 97
New York 95 FINAL
Cleveland 90
Utah 102 FINAL
Dallas 120
Oklahoma City 90 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 2
Winnipeg 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Chicago 5 FINAL(SO)
Ottawa 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Arizona 1 FINAL
Florida 2
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 4
Anaheim 0 FINAL
St. Louis 2
NY Islanders 0 FINAL
Colorado 5
Montreal 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 7:00 PM
Tulsa 7:02 PM
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
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(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
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Louisiana Tech
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Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
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(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
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(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
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USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
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Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
Hamilton 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
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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
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