With cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, a valuable slot defender, looking iffy to play Sunday against the Washington Redskins, the Vikings could again turn to versatile veteran Terence Newman, who said he is ready to slide inside if needed.
“I’ve played corner, nickel and safety in my time here. Wherever they ask me to play, I’m OK with it,” the 38-year-old cornerback said this week. “I just do what I’m told because if it can help this team win, I’m all for it.”
In eight starts this season, Newman has one interception and six pass breakups and he was recently named to Pro Football Focus’ midseason All-Pro team.
Newman mostly has played outside cornerback in Minnesota. But coach Mike Zimmer said this offseason that he sees Newman as a “defensive back” and this week said he would be comfortable playing Newman, who also played for him in Dallas and Cincinnati, at any of the five spots in his secondary.
Newman defended the slot in the second half of last week’s loss to the Detroit Lions after Munnerlyn got hurt and rookie Mackensie Alexander struggled in his place.
Munnerlyn returned to practice Friday on a limited basis but walked gingerly with his sprained right ankle heavily taped. He is listed as questionable.
Newman wouldn’t say who would replace Munnerlyn in the slot if he is out Sunday. But Newman said he thinks Alexander is capable if called upon again.
“He’s getting better,” Newman said. “He’s learning the defense.”
Nose tackle Linval Joseph also returned to practice Friday, albeit on a limited basis. Afterward, he told reporters that he is “good to go” for Sunday’s game.
Joseph was listed as questionable. If his shoulder injury prevents him from playing, the Vikings likely will have to promote one of the defensive tackles on the practice squad, Toby Johnson or Sterling Bailey, to their active roster.
Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell also is questionable because of a hamstring injury.
The Vikings have ruled out cornerback and punt returner Marcus Sherels and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. Wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs split punt return duties with Sherels sitting out Friday’s practice.
Younger Turner talks
The Vikings have moved on after the surprise resignation of offensive coordinator Norv Turner last Wednesday. But they still have a Turner on staff. His son, Scott Turner, has remained with the Vikings as their quarterbacks coach.
“I don’t have time to feel awkward about it,” Scott Turner said. “We have to go win.”
Turner said his father felt the offense “wasn’t going in the right direction and the best thing for him to do was to move on.” He knew his father resigning was a possibility, but he “didn’t think he’d actually go through with it.”
“But he did. I kind of just let him know I was there for him, basically. I still talk to him pretty much every day,” said Turner, now in his third year as QBs coach.
Homecoming for Diggs
Sunday’s game will be the first that Diggs, a second-year wide receiver, plays in his home state of Maryland (FedEx stadium is in Landover, Md.).
Diggs grew up in Gaithersburg, Md., and the five-star recruit stayed close to home by playing college football at Maryland.
“Yeah, it’s going to be exciting — my first time coming home, having a game back home,” Diggs said Wednesday on a conference call with Washington media. “I’m not thinking about too much of a homecoming, but I’m definitely excited to see my mom and just to get back to playing [in] my old town.”
Diggs leads the Vikings with 48 catches and 546 receiving yards.