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.


A limited role for Winfield?

Posted by: under Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Vikings injury report, Antoine Winfield, John Sullivan, Leslie Frazier, Pat Williams, Steve Hutchinson, Visanthe Shiancoe Updated: December 31, 2009 - 3:24 PM

No one at Winter Park is saying what the plan is for injured cornerback Antoine Winfield this Sunday against the Giants but something definitely seems to be going on.

As Chip put on the blog earlier today, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said Winfield is not nearly 100 percent because of a right foot injury and the staff is considering adjustments to help him. Winfield, a Pro Bowl selection last season, has struggled the past two games and the Star Tribune reported this week he is dealing with a Lisfranc injury in his right foot. The injury involves a sprain or dislocation-fracture to one of the small joints of the mid-foot.

Winfield missed six games because of the injury but was outstanding in his return on Dec. 13 against Cincinnati. However, his mobility and ability to jump have appeared extremely limited in the past two games, losses at Carolina and Chicago.

Winfield said today he will do "whatever they want me to do," on Sunday against the Giants. Obviously, the door is being left open for either Winfield to sit out or play a reduced role. One option would be to have Winfield come in in nickel situations and have Benny Sapp start at the left corner.

Asked about sitting out, Winfield said: "Would it make any sense? It depends on who you are asking that question. To me? No question, I want to be out there. This is really big game for us, we need to win this game. But I want to do whatever I'm asked to do. If they want me to go out there and be the starter, I'm going to start. Play nickel or sit out. I'll do that, too. But I'm a competitor. I definitely want to be on the field Sunday."

Winfield admitted the pain from his foot comes and goes even during the course of a game. "It could possibly happen," Winfield said of the pain returning. "I'm hoping it doesn't but I'm going to go out there and do what I can. If it hurts that much, trust me, I'll come out."

As has been the case in recent weeks, Winfield was limited in practice Thursday. Also limited was nose tacke Pat Williams (elbow), who missed Monday's game in Chicago. It would not be surprising to see Williams sit out the regular-season finale and then return for the playoffs.

Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy (thumb) also did not practice for a second day in a row and it appears doubtful he will play Sunday. If Williams and Kennedy both sit out, that means Fred Evans likely would start at nose tackle and Letroy Guion would stand to see playing time.

Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (thigh) returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday after sitting out Wednesday.

Other Vikings who were limited Thursday included safety Eric Frampton (ankle); left guard Steve Hutchinson (shoulder) and center John Sullivan (knee).

The New York Giants have all kinds of injury problems as we mentioned on an earlier blog earlier. Running back Brandon Jacobs (knee) and cornerback Aaron Ross (hamstring) have been placed on injured reserve.

Running back Ahmad Bradshaw (ankles/foot); tackle Kareem McKenzie (knee); cornerback Corey Webster (knee); defensive tackle Chris Canty (knee); and defensive end Justin Tuck (knee) did not practice. Wide receivers Mario Manningham (shoulder) and Hakeem Nicks (hamstring); defensive tackle Fred Robbins (lower leg); and guard Rich Seubert (knee) were limited.

Quarterback Eli Manning (foot) went through the entire practice after being limited on Wednesday.

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