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.


Winfield appears doubtful for Sunday

Posted by: under Vikings, Brad Childress, Vikings injury report, Antoine Winfield, Ben Leber, Brad Childress, Cedric Griffin Updated: October 21, 2009 - 1:42 PM

UPDATE: Antoine Winfield is not practicing today. He is the only player not taking part on at least a limited basis.

Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield hasn't been ruled out of Sunday's game because of a sprained right foot, but it appears to be an extreme long shot the veteran will be able to play against the Steelers. At least that was the feeling coming out of the Vikings locker room today.

Coach Brad Childress said during his news conference that he wasn't sure whether Winfield would practice this afternoon but that almost certainly won't happen given Winfield had his right foot in a walking boot on Monday. Childress did say Winfield had been spending extensive time at Winter Park receiving treatment on the injury, which he suffered in the second quarter last Sunday against Baltimore.

Childress did not tip his hand about what he might do at the left corner spot. Karl Paymah, who was signed because of his abilities on special teams, replaced Winfield against the Ravens but Joe Flacco had plenty of success throwing the ball his way.

Linebacker Ben Leber, speaking about what Paymah had to do against the Ravens, sounded as if he thinks Winfield won't be on the field this weekend. "It was a tough position to put any corner in last week," Leber said. "Backups get marginal reps during the week and to ask these guys to come in and play at a high level is a tough thing to do. No doubt they have to do it. This is our first real test with [Winfield] not being in the lineup so it still remains to be seen."

Another option would be for the Vikings to could start nickel back Benny Sapp at the left corner and have rookie Asher Allen play in nickel situations.

"We'll look at the guys that are competing at that position," Childress said. "We had four corners up if I'm not mistaken [on Sunday] and we rolled those guys in. We've got other guys that we'll look at as well. It could be that Antoine is able to play some and then somebody else has to play some. It could be parcelled up, it could be one guy's job. We'll just see how the week goes here and who can do what at that position."

About the only thing Childress ruled out was moving starting right corner Cedric Griffin to the left side. Childress also added that "Paymah has always traditionally been the next guy in and then Asher Allen has gotten turns as well."

Said Griffin: "When one guy goes down, the next guy steps up. We have talented guys here on our team. All of our games just have to elevate and just replace Antoine."

As for a report by the CBS Sports website on Tuesday that Childress will receive a contract extension within the next two to three weeks, he said he's not aware of any talks. "I haven't spoken to anybody about that," Childress said. "I'm just focused on beating the Pittsburgh Steelers. That's the biggest thing."

Asked if that's something he even wants to deal with, Childress said: "I'd prefer to deal with the 53 guys on this team. That's what we're doing here. So I don't give the other thing any thought."

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