Secondary looks to rally after Pack's attack

The Vikings' defensive backs were taxed against the Packers multiple-receiver sets and with Antoine Winfield on the sideline. Several cornerbacks talked about the effort, as well as Leslie Frazier explaining Green Bay's philosophy.

Marcus Sherels got caught looking in the backfield while Jordy Nelson ran by him for a 73-yard reception late in the third quarter. Late in the fourth quarter, A.J. Jefferson was called for pass interference on Nelson at the 2-yard line and, on the next play, Nelson was catching a game-tying touchdown pass against Jefferson.

All during the second half of the Vikings' 37-34 win, their most experienced cornerback was on the sideline with a fractured right hand that was swollen to nearly twice the thickness of his left hand.

The Vikings' secondary was, quite simply, taxed by the Green Bay Packers' cadre of receivers, unleashed several at a time. And both sides will get the opportunity to do it all over again Saturday night at Lambeau Field.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier expects more of the same from Mike McCarthy's receiver-heavy offensive attack.

"They do a good job of it. When I read Coach McCarthy's quotes and he says, ‘We're always looking for matchups,' I know what he means," Frazier said with a smile.

In other words, the Packers are looking for the weak prey in the Vikings secondary, and each of the reserve cornerbacks that have been put into action in the last few weeks have shown flaws.

Jefferson was especially frustrated after Sunday's game. He didn't agree with the pass interference call on him in the fourth quarter, but he appeared to make contact with Nelson while not locating the ball in the air.

"I really felt like the refs weren't on our side today," Jefferson said after the game. "Those are the things that we've got to correct on film. I thought I had great coverage on the (pass interference), but they gave him the call. I was upset about it, you could see after the touchdown."

By the time Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was done, he had completed 28 of 40 passes for 365 yards, four touchdowns and a 131.8 pass rating. Three Green Bay receivers had six catches or more, and that didn't include Nelson, who had three receptions for 87 yards. Greg Jennings, who is in the final year of his contract with the Packers, was playing more in the slot, and led the team with eight catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

Jennings was playing more in the slot, where he seems to be most effective, because Randall Cobb, the Packers' lead receiver, was inactive with an injury. McCarthy predictably wouldn't give much of a status update on Cobb Tuesday, but he will likely be in the lineup Saturday to give the Packers a dangerous four-deep receiving corps of Cobb, Jennings, Nelson and James Jones.

The Vikings, meanwhile, were trying to defend them in the second half with only one starting-quality cornerback, Chris Cook, on the field.

"It's a tough game. Injuries are going to happen, but we have younger guys in the group. They stepped up and we won," Winfield said.

"We know that offense can put up a lot of points. We had a nice little lead at the half, so that helped. Just stay in the game, continue to grind and we'll win."

The Vikings had the seldom-used Sherels on the field for exactly half of the defensive snaps covering the slot receiver because of Winfield's injury. Sherels had practiced more in the slot than third-round draft pick Josh Robinson, who play only 14 snaps (22 percent).

"It's really almost like learning a linebacker position, just doing the things that a linebacker does in certain coverages. It's kind of different, but it's something that's doable," Robison said this week.

"It's not more difficult, it's just understanding your coverages and understanding your changes and your responsibility."

Frazier said Robinson might receive more practice time covering slot receivers this week, but Robinson said Tuesday's practice didn't involve much work in the team's nickel defense.

Ideally, a week of rest will have Winfield able to play through the pain and swelling in his hand Saturday. When the Packers go to a three-receiver set, that would have Winfield sliding inside to cover the slot receiver – either Jennings or Cobb, in most cases – and Jefferson entering the game to cover one of the outside receivers.

"It was definitely a frustrating period for him, but he'll bounce back, and that's one of the things you have to be able to do at the corner position," Frazier said of Jefferson. "There are going to be some plays that don't go your way. You've got to have a short memory. He'll get past that. The thing about our business – and for him the good thing is he gets a chance to line up again this week against a lot of the same people he faced this past Sunday – so his familiarity with what they're doing offensively should help him to play better. We're going to need him to play better this weekend. We're going to need a lot of guys to play better."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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\r\n\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"Marcus Sherels got caught looking in the backfield while Jordy Nelson ran by him for a 73-yard reception late in the third quarter. Late in the fourth quarter, A.J. Jefferson was called for pass interference on Nelson at the 2-yard line and, on the next play, Nelson was catching a game-tying touchdown pass against Jefferson. All during the second half of the Vikings' 37-34 win, their most experienced cornerback was on the sideline with a fractured right hand that was swollen to nearly twice the thickness of his left hand. The Vikings' secondary was, quite simply, taxed by the Green Bay Packers' cadre of receivers, unleashed several at a time. And both sides will get the opportunity to do it all over again Saturday night at Lambeau Field. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier expects more of the same from Mike McCarthy's receiver-heavy offensive attack. \"They do a good job of it. When I read Coach McCarthy's quotes and he says, ‘We're always looking for matchups,' I know what he means,\" Frazier said with a smile. In other words, the Packers are looking for the weak prey in the Vikings secondary, and each of the reserve cornerbacks that have been put into action in the last few weeks have shown flaws. Jefferson was especially frustrated after Sunday's game. He didn't agree with the pass interference call on him in the fourth quarter, but he appeared to make contact with Nelson while not locating the ball in the air. \"I really felt like the refs weren't on our side today,\" Jefferson said after the game. \"Those are the things that we've got to correct on film. I thought I had great coverage on the (pass interference), but they gave him the call. I was upset about it, you could see after the touchdown.\" By the time Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was done, he had completed 28 of 40 passes for 365 yards, four touchdowns and a 131.8 pass rating. Three Green Bay receivers had six catches or more, and that didn't include Nelson, who had three receptions for 87 yards. Greg Jennings, who is in the final year of his contract with the Packers, was playing more in the slot, and led the team with eight catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Jennings was playing more in the slot, where he seems to be most effective, because Randall Cobb, the Packers' lead receiver, was inactive with an injury. McCarthy predictably wouldn't give much of a status update on Cobb Tuesday, but he will likely be in the lineup Saturday to give the Packers a dangerous four-deep receiving corps of Cobb, Jennings, Nelson and James Jones. The Vikings, meanwhile, were trying to defend them in the second half with only one starting-quality cornerback, Chris Cook, on the field. \"It's a tough game. Injuries are going to happen, but we have younger guys in the group. They stepped up and we won,\" Winfield said. \"We know that offense can put up a lot of points. We had a nice little lead at the half, so that helped. Just stay in the game, continue to grind and we'll win.\" The Vikings had the seldom-used Sherels on the field for exactly half of the defensive snaps covering the slot receiver because of Winfield's injury. Sherels had practiced more in the slot than third-round draft pick Josh Robinson, who play only 14 snaps (22 percent). \"It's really almost like learning a linebacker position, just doing the things that a linebacker does in certain coverages. It's kind of different, but it's something that's doable,\" Robison said this week. \"It's not more difficult, it's just understanding your coverages and understanding your changes and your responsibility.\" Frazier said Robinson might receive more practice time covering slot receivers this week, but Robinson said Tuesday's practice didn't involve much work in the team's nickel defense. Ideally, a week of rest will have Winfield able to play through the pain and swelling in his hand Saturday. When the Packers go to a three-receiver set, that would have Winfield sliding inside to cover the slot receiver – either Jennings or Cobb, in most cases – and Jefferson entering the game to cover one of the outside receivers. \"It was definitely a frustrating period for him, but he'll bounce back, and that's one of the things you have to be able to do at the corner position,\" Frazier said of Jefferson. \"There are going to be some plays that don't go your way. You've got to have a short memory. He'll get past that. The thing about our business – and for him the good thing is he gets a chance to line up again this week against a lot of the same people he faced this past Sunday – so his familiarity with what they're doing offensively should help him to play better. We're going to need him to play better this weekend. 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