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

St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 3
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 12 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 4
Washington - LP: D. Fister 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 8
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1
Boston - LP: T. Layne 2 FINAL
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 5
NY Yankees - WP: S. Greene 8 FINAL
Detroit - LP: D. Price 4
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: Z. Wheeler 2
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: M. Latos 7
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: H. Noesi 3
Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 6
Oakland - WP: D. Otero 5 FINAL
Houston - LP: C. Qualls 4
Milwaukee - LP: Z. Duke 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: D. Thayer 3
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 3 FINAL
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 1
Miami - LP: H. Alvarez 1 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: H. Santiago 6
Colorado - LP: J. Nicasio 2 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: S. Casilla 4
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:02 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
D.C. 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
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 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who would you rather have on your team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close