Claiborne Out Sunday ... Indefinitely?

Chris Claiborne has been ruled out again for Sunday and now it looks like his days as a starter -- for this year any way -- are through.

There is an axiom around the NFL that says a starter never loses his job due to injury. Realistically, there is little to no truth to that time-honored cliche -- except in the case of a quarterback who makes more money than his backup.

Vikings coach Mike Tice reiterated the untruths of that line Wednesday, as he announced that LB Chris Claiborne will miss yet another game Sunday at Arizona because of Achilles and ankle injuries.

However, he added that, if the Vikings make the playoffs following this weekend's action, Claiborne's starting job will continue to be manned by Henri Crockett.

While the team is hopeful Claiborne can return for the playoffs and be a defensive contributor, Crockett is running with the hot hand and the defense has played much better the last three weeks with the lineup shuffling that has gone on, so Crockett will remain in and Claiborne will remain out.

CHRISTMAS DAY NOTES
* All of us at VU would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday weekend.
* The Vikings playoff scenarios could be decided before they even take the field Sunday. If the Seahawks lose at San Francisco -- a distinct possibility since they are 1-6 on the road this year -- the Vikings and Packers would both make the playoffs. All that would be left to decide is which one would get a wild-card and which would get a home game as division champion.
* It would appear unlikely that the Vikings and Packers would meet in the first round of the playoffs, because the NFC North wild card team would likely be the sixth seed in the playoffs, while the division champion would almost assuredly be No. 4. In the seedings, Nos. 4 and 5 play and No. 3 meets No. 6. It should be noted, however, that if Carolina loses, the Vikings could potentially move into the No. 3 spot.
* Michael Bennett is still slated to start Sunday despite missing Wednesday's practice. He was on the sideline in a protective boot, but Tice remains confident he will start and play extensively. But the recent play of Onterrio Smith will likely mean, even if Bennett does start, his role will be limited to some extent.
* Kenny Mixon was back in practice with a surgically repaired thumb. Mixon, who broke the thumb Saturday, had a pin inserted and is expected to play Sunday.
* The Cardinals will be starting second-year QB Josh McCown Sunday, but he may find himself undermanned up front. When the injury report was released, three of the Cards' starting offensive linemen were listed. Center Pete Kendall, who is critical because he and McCown have been working together the last two weeks on center exchanges, is doubtful with a shoulder injury. Tackle L.J. Shelton (ankle) is listed as questionable and guard Leonard Davis (thumb) is listed as probable.
* Thanks to the Cardinals being unable to draw more than 20,000 fans in a 70,000-seat stadium, there is conjecture that the Vikings will have more fans in the stands with their snowbird population than the Cards will.

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