Minnesota Vikings Release Jefferson, Further Thinning The Defensive Backfield
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By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings opened a roster spot Monday by releasing cornerback A.J. Jefferson. The 25-year-old veteran was arrested early Monday morning after a 23-year-old woman reported to police at 4:30 a.m. that she was a victim of domestic assault.
Jefferson was arrested at his residence and held in Hennepin County jail Monday.
The team wasted little time releasing him before head coach Leslie Frazier’s weekly press conference.
“I can’t really comment on his release or what happens from now on, but we did release him,” Frazier said.
Jefferson only played four snaps – one defense – in Sunday’s tie with the Green Bay Packers before exiting with a neck injury.
Second-year defensive back Robert Blanton played the nickel cornerback spot after Xavier Rhodes left with a concussion.
“That’s possible,” Frazier said. “He was thrust into a role this week and I thought he held his own. He did a good job so we’ll see where we are depth wise.”
Rhodes was playing the best game of his rookie season before suffering the injury. He finished the game with four tackles and four passes defensed.
“We put him in a lot of man coverage,” Frazier said. “We felt like that was the best approach against their offense and he stood up. Because we put him in man, they tried to attack with him being a rookie, which other people do as well, but he played with a lot of confidence and played well.”
Rhodes is a physically gifted athlete with really good size and strength. He stands 6-feet-1-inches tall and 215-pounds (according to the team’s official website) while being able to run downfield with big receivers.
“That’s what he does best, rolling up in press coverage,” Frazier said.
The Vikings are down to Chris Cook, Shaun Prater and Marcus Sherels as the only healthy cornerbacks on the roster. Rhodes must pass concussion protocol tests before being cleared to play in Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears. The team also has rookie Robert Steeples on the team’s practice squad.
Cole fills in nicely
Audie Cole made his first career start on Sunday and recorded a game-high 13 tackles. He also had one sack.
“I tell you, he did a really good job for us,” Frazier said. “He did some things to make you take a hard look at where we are.”
Cole was declared the starter when regular starter Erin Henderson missed the week’s practice and game due to personal reasons. Frazier would not comment on the reason for his absence.
Henderson is back at Winter Park, but at which role still hasn’t been determined.
The Vikings could keep Cole in the middle and move Henderson to his natural outside spot, keep Henderson in the middle and start Cole on the outside or keep things as they were before the week.
“We’ll probably talk about what’s the best scenario to get the best 11 on the field,” Frazier said. “We’ll have to determine if Audie will be one of those 11 or how we’ll do it. It’s hard for me to answer that right now.”
The Vikings filled their open roster by claiming offensive tackle Mike Remmers off waivers from the San Diego Chargers. He played one game as a reserve for the Chargers this season before being placed on waivers Monday. He was signed as an undraffted free agent by the Denver Broncos out of Oregon State University in 2012. He finished that season and began this season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He never spent time on an active roster until Week 8 for the Chargers.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.