As the Vikings head into Sunday’s game in Chicago, they still plan to use a rotation at both right guard and safety.
Brandon Fusco will make his 11th consecutive start at guard but will again share time with Geoff Schwartz. Meanwhile, at safety, Jamarca Sanford will remain starting alongside Harrison Smith but will also cede playing time in spurts to Mistral Raymond.
The rotation at guard began in Week 6. Fusco has been OK at times but hesitant at others, leaving an opening for Schwartz to step in. Head coach Leslie Frazier sees no reason to stray from that rotation just yet, one way or the other.
“As long as it’s helping the both of them and helping our team, then we’ll continue to do it,” Frazier said. “And so far it’s been good for both. Hopefully that’ll continue. The times we’ve done it, it’s been a positive.”
As for the safety slot, Raymond returned to action in Week 10 against Detroit, playing for the first time since suffering a dislocated ankle Sept. 23. Raymond was the opening day starter at safety and may return to that role soon. But it won’t be this weekend as Sanford continues to play well.
Frazier said Raymond seems to be back at 100 percent. But Sanford’s assertive play provides significant comfort to ease Raymond back in.
“We thought that [Jamarca] was the back-up for a reason,” Frazier said. “But he has really played better than we thought he would in a starting role. Which is a credit to him.”
In other notes from Frazier’s Wednesday morning press conference
- Receiver Michael Jenkins is feeling much better after missing a light practice Monday with foot soreness and should practice this afternoon. An MRI revealed no structural damage or major issue. “He was so relieved when he got that news,” Frazier said. “Because the pain was excruciating for a while. But with the treatment he’s getting, he’s feeling much better.”
- Frazier said Chicago receiver Brandon Marshall will demand the same kind of defensive attention that the Vikings paid to Lions star Calvin Johnson and Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald. Frazier also noted the rapport that Marshall has with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. “They’ve got a long history together,” Frazier said. “Going back to their days in Denver, they had a lot of success there. And they’ve brought that to Chicago. They seem to have a connection that’s a little bit uncanny. He’s off to a great start in their offense. And Jay seems very, very comfortable with them.”
- As for those 30 takeaways that the Chicago defense has forced in 10 games this season, Frazier made an effort to explain the surge. “When they have success turning the ball over, it just breeds more confidence,” the Vikings coach said. “If one guy punches the ball out, then you see other guys raking and stripping. … It’s kind of contagious. One or two guys gets it started. And it’s kind of grown throughout their defense.”
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