Vikings’ Injury Woes
This Thursday night, the Minnesota Vikings will look to avenge their loss in last year’s NFC Championship Game when they travel to New Orleans. In order to so, the Vikings defense will need to stop last season’s top-rated quarterback, Drew Brees.
Firing on all cylinders, Leslie Frazier’s defense would rise to the challenge and throw multiple looks and blitzes at the Saints signal-caller. However, with only 3 healthy cornerbacks — Antoine Winfield, Lito Sheppard, and Asher Allen — Frazier may opt to play more conservatively. After all, one injury to a cornerback and the Vikings would be forced to use a safety to cover a receiver when the Saints line up in a 3-receiver set.
When head coach Brad Childress was asked about acquiring another cornerback, he replied the Vikings would “probably fill that from within.” Childress mentioned promoting practice squad player Marcus Sherels and added that he is “toying” with the idea of allowing Cedric Griffin to play on the same field where he tore his ACL a mere 7 1/2 months ago. Griffin still seems like a long shot to play, but Childress and the Vikings don’t want to start a year of high expectations with another loss to the defending world champions. Conversely, rushing back Cedric Griffin from injury could jeopardize his season. When it’s all said and done, I don’t think we’ll see Griffin on the field Thursday night; it’s just too soon.
Another area of concern is the man snapping the ball to Brett Favre. Childress hasn’t named a starting center for the game, but noted today that usual starter John Sullivan has resumed practicing and “hasn’t missed a beat.” He added that Sullivan was experiencing some soreness, but his endurance would be the real question.
“He’s just working hard to get some of that stamina back,” Childress told reporters after Tuesday’s practice.
Offensive coordinator Darell Bevell said that Sullivan’s conditioning looked good, “but it’s a matter of loading it up and making sure that it will hold up under 65 or 70 plays a game, all the way up to 90 plays.”
If Sullivan can’t go, the Vikings have two options against a Saints defense that continually harassed Favre the last time these two teams met. On the depth chart, the backup center is Jon Cooper, but starting right guard Anthony Herrera has also seen practice time and preseason action at the center position. Either way, the Vikings offensive line will be challenged by a capable Saints defensive front.
Overall, the Vikings offense should be just fine behind Adrian Peterson’s playmaking ability and Brett Favre’s quick decisions, and the defense should be its usual, dominant self. But maybe the best defense against the high-powered Saints offense is a Vikings offense that puts together long drives, thus keeping Drew Brees off the field.
P.S. If you’re looking for the “Keys to the Matchup” on Thursday, look no further than the Onion Sports Network. Click here for their take on the game.