Antoine Winfield (Jeff Hanisch/USA Today)
The Vikings’ most experience cornerback might not be available for the first round of the playoffs because of a hand injury, Leslie Frazier indicated.
The Vikings suffered a number of minor injuries during their 37-34 win over the Green Bay Packers, but a hand injury to Antoine Winfield could be the most serious.
Winfield suffered a fractured bone in his right hand during the team’s win over the Houston Texans the previous week, but as it swelled up on him during the first half of Sunday’s game and ended his performance in the first half.
The Vikings’ most experienced and most used cornerback this season played in only 28 percent of the team’s offensive snaps and appears the most uncertain after a game that featured several less severe injuries for Minnesota.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen with Antoine. We’ll see how he does throughout the week,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Monday. “He was in quite a bit of pain yesterday, so we’ll have to see how he does throughout the week and make a decision, maybe later on.”
With Winfield out, seldom-used Marcus Sherels was in the lineup when the Packers had three receivers on the field, with Sherels working on the slot receiver and A.J. Jefferson working against an outside receiver on one side and Chris Cook on the other side. Winfield would normally being playing against the slot receiver.
The lack of practice time that rookie Josh Robinson received at the nickel spot contributed to Sherels being on the field more than Robison.
“Marcus has been primarily our inside corner. We have used Josh more on the outside. And we’ve worked Josh very limited reps inside,” Frazier said. “But there are some things we’ll have to look at for this ballgame that we may do a little bit different. But it goes back to who is an inside corner and who is an outside corner.”
While Cook was the mainstay cornerback on the field, despite it being only his second game back from a fractured forearm, Sherels played in 50 percent of the snaps and Robinson only 22 percent. Cook was in for 98 percent of the snaps.
If Winfield is able to play Saturday in the first round of the playoffs in Green Bay, he would return to face the slot receiver with Jefferson and Cook on the outside. His availability will be based more on his ability to play through pain.
“We’ll have to see how he does going forward. It was tough for him, so we’ll have to see,” Frazier said.
Winfield’s right hand was severely swollen after the game.
With a short week of practice, the Vikings likely will limit several players this week. They’ve been doing that with Winfield and Adrian Peterson already, but Harrison Smith could be added to that list with a right shoulder injury suffered Sunday. However, he and Brian Robison, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury for the last two weeks of practice, are expected to play.
“Robison finished the game. I think he’ll be available for sure for this next ballgame,” Frazier said. “It was encouraging to get him back.”
Frazier said Peterson was feeling better after Sunday’s game than he was the previous week, when he took the final 1½ series off against the Texans because of an abdominal injury.
“We’ll monitor his workload throughout the week. The fact that we’re on a short week, we’ll have to do that with all our players,” Frazier said. “We’ll probably change how we structure practice and meetings because we’re on a short week. But it’s an exciting time for us.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.