You never can have too many cornerbacks.
That’s the motto coach Mike Zimmer has used to explain the Vikings’ selection of both Trae Waynes, the 11th overall draft pick in 2015, and this year’s grab of Mackensie Alexander in the second round. The two young cornerbacks joined a cupboard already stocked with Xavier Rhodes, a 2013 first-round pick, and veteran stalwart Terence Newman, a first-round pick by Dallas in 2003.
That depth likely will continue to be tested against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night.
After hearing “a pop” in his right knee while stretching Sunday morning, Rhodes was a late scratch and did not play in the Vikings’ 25-16 victory at Tennessee. Waynes made his second career start.
Asked Monday if he gained any clarity on Rhodes’ knee, Zimmer only said an operation wouldn’t be needed to heal it, which isn’t the most optimistic sign.
“He doesn’t need surgery, so,” Zimmer said. “We’ll take it day to day.”
Rhodes wore a brace on his right knee Monday as walked around the locker room with a slight limp. He underwent a magnetic resonance imaging scan after the game, though Zimmer did not provide any clarity when asked if Rhodes would be out for an extended period.
The injury is another poorly-timed blow for the Vikings after the fourth-year cornerback had a strong summer and could be playing for a contract extension next offseason. Rhodes had missed much of the preseason after tweaking a hamstring in the Aug. 18 exhibition in Seattle. He initially didn’t return to practice until last week.
Then a stretch that led to a ‘‘pop,’’ Rhodes and Zimmer say, created a new setback.
“Being out for a couple weeks, I was excited about coming into the season,” Rhodes said. “It didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to turn out, so I was pretty upset about it.”
The two opposing quarterbacks on deck for the Vikings are the past two league MVPs in Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Carolina’s Cam Newton.
Will Bradford start?
Is two weeks enough time for Sam Bradford to be ready?
That’s the question the Vikings will have to figure out before Sunday night’s nationally televised game against the Packers, marking the regular-season opener at new U.S. Bank Stadium.
Though don’t expect Zimmer to inform the public on who will be starting at quarterback between Bradford, for whom the Vikings sent a first-round draft pick and conditional fourth-round pick to Philadelphia, or Shaun Hill.
“I haven’t decided yet, so we’ll figure all that stuff out,” Zimmer said. “You know, Green Bay is an awful good team; everybody is picking them to go to the Super Bowl. We’re just trying to be in the fight and keep our cards close to the vest.”
Only the regular team-issued shirts were spotted around the Vikings locker room, a year after ‘Beat Green Bay’ was written across the backs of players and team staffers.
“No, no, no T-shirts,” defensive end Everson Griffen said. “We’re going to keep it simple around here and do all the right things — work hard. Work got us to this point.”
This point is the position of defending the NFC North title, which the Vikings took from the Packers in Green Bay last winter. Though Zimmer has seemed more comfortable in the underdog role, which the Vikings might be after losing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for the season.
“We can’t get caught up in the rivalry,” Zimmer said. “We have to figure out who to block, when to block them and all that stuff. I think it’s great for the fans, but we need to beat them a lot more often for it to be a rivalry.”