With Packers Up Next, Vikings Secondary Still Iffy

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings are one of the eight NFL teams this season who’ve already experienced the excellence of Aaron Rodgers.

They’re on the verge of a second showing.

The Vikings play at Green Bay next Monday night, and the Packers haven’t broken stride. They’re still unbeaten, riding a passing attack rivaling any of the best in league history. Minnesota’s secondary remains unsettled, hardly an ideal scenario for facing Rodgers and his golden right arm.

“We definitely have a tough challenge ahead,” said cornerback Antoine Winfield, who is set to return to the starting lineup after missing the last four games because of a neck injury.

Though Rodgers threw for 335 yards and three touchdowns in Green Bay’s 33-27 victory at Minnesota on Oct. 23, connecting on 80 percent of his passes with drops and spikes responsible for some of the incompletions, the Vikings’ beleaguered defensive backs actually held their own considering the mismatches that existed. Winfield was watching on the sideline and Chris Cook, the team’s best cover man, was in jail. But the Packers converted only two of their eight third downs, thanks in part to a strong pass rush by the Vikings up front.

This week, Winfield is back, giving the group a much-needed lift. Asher Allen, who started at cornerback in the win at Carolina on Oct. 30, got a boost of his own by shadowing Panthers star receiver Steve Smith and keeping him from dominating the game.

“The coaches know what I can do,” Allen said, adding: “It was good to go out there and play against somebody like that.”

Frazier indicated the Vikings are still considering signing another cornerback, but for now this is what they’ve got. Cook remained on the roster this week, but facing a felony domestic assault charge, he’s unlikely to be available the rest of the season. Marcus Sherels made the team as a punt returner, an overachiever the coaching staff is quite fond of, but his role is essentially limited to the dime packages.

That puts the onus for improvement squarely on cornerback Cedric Griffin, whose comeback from a second reconstructive knee surgery — he has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in each leg — has been a struggle. He hasn’t missed any time, but his production and ability to stick with opposing top receivers has been spotty.

Griffin has declined to discuss his recovery this season, speaking only in sugar-coated generalities. Allen was assigned to Smith, not Griffin, one sign of where he’s at. But Frazier said Monday that Griffin, at this point, remains the starter.

“They wouldn’t put him out there if they didn’t feel like he was ready to play. He’s out there, so he has everybody’s confidence,” Allen insisted.

Winfield will be asked to do a lot as well, as usual. He said returning to the field will be “like riding a bike.” The team’s surest tackler, who has long been pound-for-pound one of the toughest players in the league, said he’s not concerned about being skittish when the ball comes his way.

“I love contact. I love to hit and put my head in there, and then with the neck injury it made it that much harder,” Winfield said. “So I took the time I needed, I feel great, body feels great, so I’m ready to go.”

NOTES: RG Anthony Herrera didn’t practice, still bothered by an injury to his left knee. His status this week is uncertain. But WR Percy Harvin, who has been bothered by bruised ribs for much of the season, benefited from the bye as much as anyone and said he’s in good shape for the Green Bay game. … LB E.J. Henderson, who has been hampered by soreness and on-and-off post-surgical swelling in his left knee, stemming from the operation he had after breaking his leg in gruesome fashion nearly two years ago, said appreciated the week off at midseason. “I feel a lot better. I feel refreshed like mostly everybody, so it should be fun to get out there Monday night,” Henderson said.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Murph

    They would be iffy again’st St Mary’s girls college too! Can’t wait til they draft some more club footed linemen and psycho skill players!

  • Sister Mary Francine's 6th grade girls team would put them to the test

    I’m sick of these losers and their head panhandler Zygi.

    51 years without a Super Bowl win yet they want the good people of Minnesota to give them a 3/4 billion dollar handout.

    Get out of Minnesota!

    • Zicky Wolf

      Ever think that the reason the vikings are so bad is because our players don’t have the confidence that comes from playing in a prestigious stadium?? HMMM??

    • Really

      Oh yes…please leave and further erode the economy by impacting all the revenue that is generated not only for the vikings but for all the businesses who benefit from it.

      Your an idiot. Look at the big picture for once.

      • Yes, really

        How many times did you have to repeat third grade for failing arithmetic and English?

        I’m from Missouri so SHOW ME some VERIFIABLE FACTS behind your claims of untold wealth generated by the Vikings for the people and businesses of Minnesota.

        And, please answer this question: If the Vikings bring all this incredible wealth to Minnesota, why doesn’t Zygi want to build his own stadium and keep all this glorious wealth for himself?

        Maybe you should try to repeat third grade again – and pass this time.

  • Random Anonymous Blackmail

    Jared Allen will still think he is deer hunting and field dress Aaron Rogers in the first quarter. Viking by 6.. Book it DONE.

    • L.A. Vikings in2013

      NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. For the most part the Vikings are a bunch of has beens. Aaron Rodgers will have 2 TD’s in the first quarter, Green Bay by 10. Book it DONE!

  • B.Grant

    Green Bay 63 Vikings 3

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