Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.

Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.

Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Vikings experimenting with slot options in case Antoine Winfield can't play

Posted by: under Vikings, NFC, Packers, Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Jared Allen Updated: January 2, 2013 - 3:34 PM

The Vikings seems to have little doubt that veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield will play Saturday night in Green Bay. But even if Winfield can start, there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to finish, still dealing with a fractured right hand that is significantly swollen and grew so painful Sunday that he left the game for good in the second quarter.

Marcus Sherels supplanted Winfield as the slot corner thereafter and may still be the Vikings’ most likely option there if Winfield can’t play or is limited this weekend. But defensive coordinator Alan Williams admitted that he is shuffling things around in practice this week and has tried everyone from Josh Robinson to A.J. Jefferson to a few of the team’s safeties as the Vikings look for reinforcements to their passing defense.

Reflections of …

When the Vikings left Green Bay at 6-6 following a Week 13 loss to the Packers, most outsiders figured it would be a longshot for the Vikings to win out and reach the playoffs. Jared Allen? He thought back to 2008 when the Vikings were 5-5 and in a crowded NFC North race yet won five of their final six to reach the postseason.

Said Allen: “You start looking around your team and realizing, hey, we’ve got a better team here than 2008. We’re deeper. We have more depth, and we’re injury-free. And we’ve got, especially on the defensive side, some guys playing at a high level. And our back end is playing really well.”

Allen said the Vikings channeled that big-picture into focus and went about plucking off each of their final four wins as independent lines on a checklist.

Truly special

It might have seemed like special teams coordinator Mike Priefer was kidding Wednesday when he mentioned the constant lobbying that Adrian Peterson does to find a role on special teams. He wasn’t.

“He always asks,” Priefer insisted. “He’s a football player. Gunner, field goal block, returner. The guy is awesome. I always say yes. And then I ask the head coach and he says no.”

Peterson confirmed his desire to get on the field more with a role outside of the offense.

“Yeah, for the past two years I have been trying to get in on field goal block,” he said. “Come in off the edge. You know. It’s just going to take one block for them to really be [like], ‘OK, you know what, let’s take the chance and let you go out there and get it done.’ …  I believe in having your best players on the field, especially in critical times. You never know what can happen. That’s what I would do.”

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Toronto 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Cleveland 1
LA Angels 1 Bottom 1st Inning
Detroit 0
Atlanta 0 Top 2nd Inning
NY Mets 1
Seattle 1 Bottom 2nd Inning
Miami 0
St. Louis - S. Miller 12:35 PM
Washington - S. Strasburg
Milwaukee - M. Estrada 12:35 PM
Pittsburgh - G. Cole
NY Yankees - V. Nuno 12:40 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Ramos
Minnesota - P. Hughes 1:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Cincinnati - H. Bailey 1:20 PM
Chicago Cubs - C. Villanueva
Chicago WSox - E. Johnson 2:05 PM
Texas - R. Ross Jr.
Houston - B. Peacock 3:05 PM
Oakland - J. Chavez
Philadelphia - R. Hernandez 3:10 PM
Colorado - J. Nicasio
San Francisco - T. Lincecum 3:10 PM
San Diego - R. Erlin
Arizona - J. Collmenter 3:10 PM
Los Angeles - J. Beckett
Baltimore - U. Jimenez 6:05 PM
Boston - J. Peavy
Dallas 9 1st Qtr 0:34
San Antonio 21
Charlotte 2:30 PM
Washington 6:00 PM
Portland 8:30 PM
Philadelphia 2 2nd Prd 11:38
NY Rangers 2
Detroit 2:00 PM
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
San Jose
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13




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