At 4-10-1 and coming off a lackluster 42-14 loss at Cincinnati, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier decided today was the time to address his job status with his players.
"It's like the elephant in the room," Frazier said when asked why he chose today to bring it up in a team meeting. "I just felt like I needed to get that addressed. Looking back at it, I probably should have dealt with it a week ago. I don't want those guys to be distracted. I want them to focus on the opponent. I felt like we got a little distracted last week. I want to make sure that we're all focused on one thing and that's winning this game against Detroit."
Frazier is 20-33-1 heading into Sunday's game at Mall of America Field. His contract runs through the 2014 season, but NFL coaches typically don't coach in what would be a lame-duck season. And Frazier obviously isn't in position to receive a contract extension.
Quarterback Matt Cassel said he didn't think the team was distracted by Frazier's contract status.
"I didn't sense that at all," he said. "I think the last game came down to pure execution. We didn't execute and it showed on third down and throughout the course of the game. We had [four] turnovers. Obviously, myself, I have to do a better job of taking care of the football. We just have to play better football."
Linebacker Erin Henderson said Frazier's comments weren't necessary.
"That was just something he wanted to do, that he felt was necessary," Henderson said. "We just go out and play football and control what we can control. [Frazier’s job status] is something that’s very far from our hands. We’re just focusing on Detroit."
Linebacker Chad Greenway also said it wasn't a significant distraction.
"Maybe it is from the perspective of answering questions and stuff like that for him," Greenway said. "But for us, we have jobs to fight for too so we’re trying to do our job as well we can."
Gerhart looking doubtful for Sunday: In other news, Frazier said it's looking doubtful that running back Toby Gerhart (hamstring) will play on Sunday in what could be his final game as a Viking. Neither Gerhart nor Adrian Peterson (foot/groin) will practice today. But Frazier was expecting cornerback Xavier Rhodes (ankle) to practice today. Rhodes has missed the past two games because of an ankle sprain.
Also not practicing today were Harrison Smith, cornerback Shaun Prater, linebacker Larry Dean, linebacker Audie Cole and nose tackles Fred Evans and Letroy Guion.
The Vikings will issue their first injury report of the week on Wednesday.