The two best things to come out of Saturday night's 23-17 loss to the Cowboys at the Metrodome were the first drive by the offense and the fact that cornerback Antoine Winfield got up after crumpling to the ground with a right shoulder stinger after tackling tight end Jason Witten late in the second quarter.
"Antoine is going to be fine," coach Leslie Frazier said. "If we had been in a regular-season game, he would have been right back out there in that next series. He'll be ready when the time comes."
That time likely won't be Thursday's preseason finale against Houston at the Metrodome. Frazier is expected to rest most of the starters and no way does Winfield play in that game, nor does he need to.
Also injured was cornerback Chris Cook, who plays Winfield's right cornerback spot when Winfield moves inside to the slot in the nickel defense. Cook had an ice bag taped to his left hamstring, but Frazier said "Chris is fine. Just got tight a little bit. We could have put him back in, but we chose not to."
Ironically, the last of the top three corners left on the field in the first half was Cedric Griffin, the guy coming off two torn ACLs over the past two years. He played 27 snaps and held his own despite being targeted eight times.
"What I was encouraged by was when Chris was out there, when Cedric was out there and when 'toine was out there, we held our own," Frazier said. "And that's really encouraging for our team because we're really going to need those guys to play at a high level for our defense to play well. So when they were there, we held them in check. and, yeah, when they were out of the lineup, things changed a little bit."
Late in the first half, the first-team defense was running with Cord Parks, rookie Stephen Burton and Marcus Sherels working in the nickel defense. That's not good, even though Sherels is having an outstanding camp and preseason.
As for the offense, yeah, it wasn't perfect. Donovan McNabb forced a pass into double coverage -- a la Favre -- that was tipped and interception. That led to a Cowboys' touchdown drive and a 10-point deficit.
However, the offense's opening drive was exactly how new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave wants his new offense to perform this year.
In a seven-play, 83-yard drive, the Vikings fed Adrian Peterson the ball five times for 29 yards. And just when the Cowboys moved closer to the line to stop the run, McNabb was able to take a seven-step drop and have all the time he needed to launch a perfectly thrown 49-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian, who caught the ball between two defenders at the goal line.
"That drive," Frazier said, "was really indicative of what we waant to be like during the course of the year."
As for Bernard, the forgotten man from 2010, Frazier said, "We're counting on Bernard to make the kind of plays he made on that opening drive. If that does happen for us, we have a chance to be an explosive offense."
Injury update: Backup offensive lineman Chris DeGeare suffered a mild concussion on the blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown. Running back Lorenzo Booker suffered a back injury, according to Frazier. Frazier said he needed more information before he could speak about the seriousness of Booker's injury.