Notebook: Defensive injuries popping up

The Vikings likely will be without several defensive players Saturday night because of injuries. Plus, get notes from the final full practice before Saturday’s game.

Injuries on defense likely will dictate coaches won’t get a chance to see all the players they want Saturday night when the Minnesota Vikings travel to Kansas City.

Linval Joseph might be the only defensive starter to miss time as he recovers from a gunshot wound to the calf suffered hours after the preseason opener, but several other players missed time this week in preparation for the third preseason game.

Linebacker Chad Greenway’s right wrist continues to give him problems, but he was back fully participating in Thursday’s practice after sitting out full-team work on Wednesday. He has been practicing with a soft brace on the wrist, the same one that was broken last year as he played through the injury.

He isn’t the only starter trying to play through injury. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes was in and out of practice Wednesday and Thursday with a strained groin, one that caused head coach Mike Zimmer to wish he had given Rhodes more time off this week. Twice during Thursday’s practice Rhodes left the field gingerly and was replaced by Shaun Prater.

The status of Rhodes and Greenway for Saturday’s game aren’t known, but defensive coordinator George Edwards has seen progress in Rhodes’ skills.

“That’s the one thing that we strive for every day that we are out here, is that consistency,” Edwards said. “That’s the one thing that Coach (Jerry) Gray and Coach Zimmer are trying to get in the secondary and trying to work, where we come out here every day and we know exactly what we are doing – technique, fundamental-wise and where we want to be as far as location in different coverages on receivers. That’s a big part of it. You see flashes of a player doing something; you just want to keep continuing to work to be consistent day in and day out.”

Prater, too, missed some practice time earlier in the week with what Zimmer termed a “mild concussion” in last Saturday’s game, but he didn’t appear to be limited Wednesday and Thursday, which is a good sign as he tries to show he belongs on the final 53-man roster.

The secondary could also see the return of cornerback Josh Robinson, who hasn’t gotten time in the first two preseason games because of a hamstring injury.

“He did a good job yesterday when we were going through the drills, looking at him on the tape as far as the position that we’re asking him to be in and those kind of things,” Edwards said. “It’s just a matter again of getting him out here consistently, getting him with the group.”

The Vikings are likely to be without rookie cornerback Jabari Price (arm/shoulder) and linebackers Gerald Hodges (leg) and Brandon Watts (leg) on defense and Adrian Peterson (coach’s decision) on Saturday as they face the Kansas City Chiefs.

Peterson missed his second straight day of practice for personal reasons, but he is expected to attend the game against the Chiefs (but not play) on Saturday. Zimmer said earlier this week that Peterson likely wouldn’t play at all in the preseason as they save wear and tear on their star running back.


  • Some of the starters on defense are expected to play into the third quarter.

  • Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said Blair Walsh was 47 of 50 in competitive field goal situations since training camp started.

    “That doesn’t mean a whole lot when you miss a couple of field goals, but he’s striking the ball, he’s hitting the ball well,” Priefer said. “We’re working on a little bit part of the follow through and I think we’ll tweak that and he’ll be just fine.”

    Walsh is 4 for 6 on field goals this preseason, but the two misses have come from more than 50 yards. He has also missed an extra point.

  • Priefer said the special teams group will be in good hands when Joe Marciano takes over for him while Priefer serves a two- or three-game suspension to start the season after making an anti-gay remark in front of former punter Chris Kluwe.

    “He’s a knowledgeable coach, he’s been very successful, he’s been in this league a long time,” Priefer said of Marciano. “We’re trading ideas as we’re game-planning for these first two ballgames, three ballgames.”

  • Priefer said Cordarrelle Patterson could return a kick or two on Saturday. Patterson led the league last year with a 32.4-yard average on kick returns and Priefer explained why he is such a valuable return man.

    “Size, speed, strength, he’s got great quickness and, like a lot of the great returners in this league, he’s got great vision,” Priefer said. “I’ve coached some guys that have the size and speed before and didn’t have good vision, they just kind of ran into blocks and stuff, but he has an innate ability to see things right before they happen and he’s very good at that.”

  • Priefer said the coaching staff will shift from evaluation mode to more regular-season preparation after this weekend.

  • Quarterback Christian Ponder got far more full-team work on Thursday than he had in at least a week, indicating that he could see some playing time on Saturday. The third-string quarterback played in the preseason opener but not the second game. He threw one interception in Thursday’s practice when he stared down a receiver as he rolled out to his right and Captain Munnerlyn broke on the pass perfectly for what would have been a defensive touchdown.

  • Teddy Bridgewater looked especially sharp in a goal-line sessions, connecting on four straight passes for touchdowns with the second-team offense versus a scout-team defense.

  • Greenway dropped a would-be interception from Ponder and kicked the ball into the woods adjacent to the practice field in frustration. The ball ended up getting stuck in a tree about 20 feet up and Greenway later retrieved it by throwing another ball to knock it down.

    Greenway didn’t receive high marks from former punter Greg Coleman, who attended practice. He judged Greenway’s punting form as fair. “Toe wasn’t pointed down, no follow-through,” Coleman joked.

  • Safety Brandan Bishop dropped a would-be interception that Matt Cassel intended for Cordarrelle Patterson.

  • Cornerback Marcus Sherels and receiver Jerome Simpson got into a shoving match after one play.

    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.

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