Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He has temporarily returned to cover the Minnesota Vikings. He had the beat from 2008-2011 after covering college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.Find Chip on Facebook.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
A quick glimpse at the injury report has defensive back Xavier Rhodes listed with a right shoulder injury this week, although he left Sunday’s loss against the Cowboys with a left knee injury.
Rhodes actually suffered both injuries in the game. He first injured his right shoulder in the second quarter when he attempted to tackle tight end Hanna James. It remains to be the most severe injury heading into the Redskins game on Thursday.
“When I hit him, I hit him kind of odd and landed kind of odd too,” Rhodes said.
He played through the injury however and hurt his knee in the fourth quarter. He tried to return and ended up taking himself out of the game again. Rhodes said adrenaline was the main factor in his return, but the knee was aggravating him and he didn’t want to make it worst.
Rhodes said his knee is fine now, but the shoulder still needs some work and has limited his participation in Tuesday’s practice and Monday’s walkthrough. He has to put in more hours on the training table because of the quick turnaround Thursday, but he doesn’t feel any pressure to play with defensive backs Chris Cook (hip) and Josh Robinson (chest) also limited this week.
”We’ll see how it goes tomorrow,” Rhodes said. “It got better from what it was yesterday. Hopefully it’ll be right Thursday.”
The rest of the injury report is the same. Running back Matt Asiata (shoulder), tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle), defensive tackle Fred Evans (knee), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (chest/knee), guard Charlie Johnson (elbow) and tackle Phil Loadholt (concussion) did not participate Tuesday.
For the Redskins, linebacker London Fletcher (knee), safety Jose Gumbs (ankle), wide receiver Leonard Hankerson (hamstring), and running back Chris Thompson (shoulder) all were full participants in Tuesday’s practice after being limited during Monday’s walkthrough.
Eight players didn’t participate in the Vikings walkthrough on Monday. Right tackle Phil Loadholt was held out due to a concussion he suffered in Sunday’s loss against the Cowboys. Running back Matt Asiata (shoulder) left the team to attend his father’s funeral in Utah.
Tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle), defensive tackles Fred Evans (knee) and Letroy Guion (chest/knee), guard Charlie Johnson (elbow), safety Jamarca Sanford (groin) and tight end Kyle Rudolph were also held out of the walkthrough.
Defensive backs Chris Cook (hip), Xavier Rhodes (knee) and Josh Robinson (chest) were limited participants.
For the Redskins, linebacker London Fletcher (knee), safety Jose Gumbs (ankle), wide receiver Leonard Hankerson (hamstring) and running back Chris Thompson (shoulder) were limited participants in the team’s walkthrough.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said tight end Kyle Rudolph has a fractured left foot and could be out for a month. He suffered the injury after scoring a 31-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Rudolph told reporters after Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys that X-rays on his foot were negative.
“I think the guy just fell on his foot when he was tackling him,” Frazier said. “It's a very significant injury for him and for our team. That gives some other guys a chance to step up. Chase Ford, who played in the ballgame and did a good job for us, he'll play. John Carlson will get more reps now.”
Starting right tackle Phil Loadholt (concussion) won't participate in Monday’s walkthrough. Along with Rudolph and Loadholt, defensive tackle Fred Evans, safety Jamarca Sanford, defensive back Xavier Rhodes, defensive tackle Letroy Guion, tight end Rhett Ellison and guard Charlie Johnson won’t practice.
Running back Matt Asiata has left the team to attend his father’s funeral in Utah.
Frazier said in his press briefing that Rhodes, who injured his left leg Sunday, he could return to the field Tuesday. Defensive back Chris Cook, who missed the game because of a hip injury, will attempt to practice Tuesday.
Frazier also said Christian Ponder will be the starting quarterback on Thursday night against Washington at the Metrodome.
Some players expressed their frustration after Sunday's loss, where Dallas won on a last minute touchdown, and Frazier said he would speak to those players.
“You know I respect their opinions and I know how competitive they are and how much they want to win,” Frazier said. “I like for them to talk to their coaches myself about whatever concerns they may have and try to get those worked out. But I do understand their frustration and I respect their opinions.”
We'll have updates throughout the afternoon. Players will be available after the walkthrough.
It's a quick turnaround this week for the Vikings following a 27-23 loss to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Sunday. They return home to face the Redskins on Thursday in attempt to snap a four-game losing streak and avoid the first 1-8 start in franchise history. Here's your first look at the week ahead:
1) Can the secondary perform an encore?
While Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw for 337 yards, he had 90 yards on the game-winning drive when the Vikings opted not to send pressure. With that said, the unit had a solid performance despite injuries to defensive back Chris Cook and starting safeties Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford before the game.
The secondary even dealt with the loss of defensive back Xavier Rhodes in the game with a left leg injury and finished the game with just four corners. A.J. Jefferson made a great play on the interception with 4:35 left in the game that the offense couldn't capitalize on, leading to the Cowboys' game-winning touchdown drive.
The Vikings have three days to prepare and recuperate for the Redskins and quarterback Robert Griffin III. The health status of Cook, Rhodes and Sanford will likely be the biggest storyline leading up to the game behind the season-long debate. Griffin's going through a sophomore slump with the same amount of touchdowns, nine, as fumbles and interceptions, but he’s still a duel threat quarterback that’s capable of posting 350 yards of total offense alone.
2) Who will be the starting and backup quarterbacks?
Yes, the Cowboys have the worst total defense in the NFL, and yes, quarterback Christian Ponder didn’t move the chains on a 3-and-out with 2:51 left in the game that could’ve sealed the win, but he played well enough to start again Thursday. In a short week, it’s difficult to make a quarterback change when there aren’t as many days to prepare for the opponent.
It seems as if quarterback Matt Cassel isn’t an option to start now given how he won’t be a potential future quarterback for the organization. The other option, quarterback Josh Freeman, was inactive Sunday as he returned to the field last week following concussion-like symptoms in his first start against the Giants on Oct. 21. Do you make Freeman the starter, or even the backup, on a short week or go with the same look for the third consecutive week (Ponder starting, Cassel as the backup)?
3) Is the offensive line streak all but over?
The Vikings offensive line will likely see a starting lineup change for the first time in two seasons. Right tackle Phil Loadholt left Sunday’s game because of a concussion, and Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he doesn’t expect him to play Thursday.
That would snap 25 consecutive games (including playoffs) without a lineup change for the offensive line that dates back to the start of last season. J’Marcus Webb replaced Loadholt in the third quarter and was beaten by Cowboys defensive end George Selvie, who stripped the ball out of Ponder’s hand in the end zone resulting in a defensive touchdown. Webb will be one of two options, along with backup center Joe Berger, to fill Loadholt’s void and end an impressive feat.
Best Quote From The Game
“I didn’t know it was a flag. The play was over with and I didn’t know it was a flag.” - Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant on his 15-yard penalty for removing his helmet on the field.
It’s known as “The Emmitt Rule” because former Cowboys running back and Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith constantly ripped off his helmet after scoring a touchdown. The rule was introduced in 1997.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier announced Christian Ponder will start against the Cowboys on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
Frazier made the decision public on Friday, although he knew Ponder would start earlier in the week. Ponder took first team reps throughout the week during the open portion of practice and did not participate after practice in team sessions with the second team.
Frazier said he chose Ponder because he felt the Dallas native would give the Vikings the best chance to win, but he didn’t commit to Ponder at quarterback beyond Sunday’s game. Ponder played at Colleyville Heritage High in Colleyville, Texas, about 20 minutes away from AT&T Stadium.
“You’re hoping that a guy will have a great game and you don’t have to have these conversations going forward,” Frazier said. “I’m hoping he has a great game on Sunday, and can lead us to victory and move on from there. It’s just like the rest of our season, it’s one game at a time for us right now.”
Frazier said he has an idea on who will back up Ponder, but he didn’t make it official. Matt Cassel was the backup last week against the Packers while Josh Freeman, recovering from post-concussion symptoms, was inactive for the 44-31 loss.
“I told them earlier in the week how we were going to approach it and we talked about it rep-wise as well, so they have an idea but I want to confirm it after this practice,” Frazier said.
Running back Matt Asiata (shoulder), cornerback Chris Cook (hip muscle), tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle), safety Jamarca Sanford (groin) and defensive tackle Fred Evans (knee) will not make the trip to Dallas, Frazier said.
The absence of Cook and Sanford gives the Vikings a thin secondary against quarterback Tony Romo. Frazier didn’t announce any moves, but he’ll likely bring up rookie safety Brandan Bishop from the practice squad with just three active safeties on the roster.
Andrew Sendejo and Mistral Raymond will be the starting safeties, while Frazier hasn’t decided who will start with Josh Robinson at corner.
“Those guys have all practiced well this week so we’ve just got to make a decision which guy you want to start opposite Josh,” Frazier said.
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