The Vikings continued to work without three of their cornerbacks Thursday as they moved closer to another game with a makeshift secondary.
Rookie Cameron Dantzler missed his second straight practice because of the neck injury and concussion he sustained in the first quarter of the Vikings’ game against the Packers on Sunday. Holton Hill missed his eighth straight practice because of a foot injury that has kept him out since Week 4. Hill’s last full practice was Oct. 2, two days before the most recent game he played in Houston on Oct. 4.
Mark Fields is expected to miss several games after sustaining a “pinhole puncture” in one of his lungs Sunday, and rookie Harrison Hand was limited for the second straight day because of a hamstring injury.
That leaves Jeff Gladney, Kris Boyd and recent pickup Chris Jones as the only cornerbacks who are on the Vikings’ active roster and not on their injury report.
The Vikings could add Marcus Sayles from the practice squad to the active roster before Sunday to avoid needing even more drastic solutions.
Wide receiver Adam Thielen said on KFAN this week he was preparing to play defensive back if necessary, and safety Anthony Harris stepped in at nickel corner toward the end of the Vikings’ 28-22 win in Green Bay, with rookie Josh Metellus replacing him at safety.
“I don’t think I’ve gotten any game reps at nickel [before Sunday],” Harris said. “Over the years, I’ve gotten a couple at practice and that’s about it. But anytime you’re in a game, you’re just trying to have fun. I pride myself on knowing my individual job and what the people around me are doing. So I was able to know the assignments and go in and play some nickel and try to help us finish the game.”
Wide receiver Dan Chisena (hip) was also limited for a second straight day at practice. Fullback C.J. Ham and Thielen were on the injury report because of shoulder injuries, though both were full participants in practice.
Veteran specialists help
Winds at Lambeau Field on Sunday that swirled about 20 mph for most of the game, gusted up to 40 mph and drove windchills into the teens made things difficult for quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers during the game. Both teams had veteran specialists as well, who faced just as much trouble with the conditions.
“I was talking to [General Manager] Rick Spielman after the game,” special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf said. “I asked him — he’s been doing it for a long time — ‘Have you ever been part of a game like this where the wind is such a factor?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, down in Miami we had a hurricane wind that had gusts of 50-60 miles an hour.’ This was, by far, the most challenging for me in my 16 years in the league. But it was good; the guys had a good pregame and we understood what we could do.”
Kicker Dan Bailey and punter Britton Colquitt were on the field until minutes before kickoff, trying to get a feel for the conditions. When Colquitt had to field a high snap from Austin Cutting on an extra point, Bailey paused his run-up to the ball, then restarted it to make the kick, rather than forcing Colquitt to pick up the ball and try to improvise a two-point conversion.
“When that happens and he’s able to get it down and Dan is disciplined enough to stay with him … he didn’t feel a rush and talking about his peripheral and what he saw … he just kicked it and it went through,” Maalouf said. “That helped us out tremendously. Veterans groups, those two guys are great with that.”
Lions QB Stafford could play without practicing
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is on the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list after his wife was in close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. But since Stafford was placed on the list early enough in the week, he might have a chance to play against the Vikings on Sunday.
He is required to isolate for five days after the close contact, which happened Monday, according to ESPN. If Stafford continues to have negative COVID-19 tests, he could play (albeit without practicing) against the Vikings.
If he is out for the game, the Vikings would face either Chase Daniel — who quarterbacked the Bears to a win over Minnesota last season — or David Blough.