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 mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


New cast may be key to keeping Antoine Winfield on the field Saturday

Posted by: under Injury report, Vikings, Packers, Leslie Frazier, Vikings defense, Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Brian Robison, Leslie Frazier Updated: January 3, 2013 - 5:20 PM

Last week, Antoine Winfield wore only a wrap and a protective pad on his fractured right hand. This week, he’ll go with a sturdier soft cast. And that more than anything else is giving Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier optimism that Winfield will be able to play more Saturday night in Green Bay than he did in last weekend’s home win over the Packers.

“I feel better,” Frazier said following Thursday’s practice, the Vikings’ last of the week. “Just to see him move around with that cast, he was actually over there hitting the dummies and doing some things to jar it just to see how it would feel. And he said it felt great. So that was encouraging, very encouraging.”

Winfield played only 18 of 64 defensive snaps last weekend. And the Vikings defense was chewed up after his exit in the second quarter. Even if Winfield can start Saturday night, Frazier has dabbled with contingency plans, one of which would include moving A.J. Jefferson inside as a slot corner and using rookie Josh Robinson outside. Marcus Sherels, who replaced Winfield on Sunday, is also an option in the slot, though it seems clear the Vikings are looking for ways to minimize Sherels’ role on defense.

Winfield will likely be listed as questionable when the Vikings issue their official injury report on Friday. It seems likely that he will start. Keeping that hand protected will be key.

Winfield also noted after Thursday's practice that he would definitely be seeking medicinal help to numb his right hand as much as possible.

In other injury news …

  • Quarterback Christian Ponder continues dealing with tightness in his right elbow this week and has been limited in practice the last three days. “He’s done a lot more stuff mental than physical right now,” Frazier said. “But he should be fine.”
  • Rookie safety Harrison Smith continues to work through a minor knee injury, a setback that kept him out of practice on Tuesday and limited him on Wednesday and Thursday. But Smith will start Saturday.
  • Adrian Peterson was also back at practice Thursday and, according to Frazier, moved around well even as he continues dealing with a lingering abdomen injury. Defensive end Brian Robison also seems to have made notable progress with the shoulder sprain he’s been dealing with for the past two weeks.

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