Secondary Thin, Still Dangerous

The Vikings may be thin in the defensive backfield, but cornerback Antoine Winfield thinks that opposing offenses will shy away from attacking them in certain ways.

Cornerback Antoine Winfield admits that injuries have depleted what once was considered a deep secondary, but he still expects the team to play well against the pass.

"With Corey [Chavous] and Brian [Russell] back there — I know they had a lot of interceptions last year — a lot of teams won't test us down the field too much," Winfield said.

The Vikings will still feel the injuries. Safety Tyrone Carter's sprained right knee landed him on injured reserve. That left 2002 third-round draft pick Willie Offord and new signee Omare Lowe as the backups to Russell and Chavous just days before the opener.

Cornerback Brian Williams' sprained knee appears to be on the mend and he could return to action Sunday for the opener.

"I think he's right on time, right on schedule for Dallas, for at least, certainly emergency duty, if not a little better than the nickel duty," Tice said. "If all goes well, then starting [duty]."

Regardless of Brian Williams' status, Winfield expects some of the more inexperienced defensive backs to fill the void left by injuries to Carter and Williams.

"I think the young guys will step up," Winfield said. "They've been doing a good job so far. Injuries are part of the game. Every team in the league has to battle injuries. When that happens, guys like Rushen [Jones] and Rhett Nelson and all those guys have to step up."

What has surprised Winfield the most, considering this was his first training camp with the Vikings, was the speed the team possesses on both sides of the ball.

"We have a lot of speed on the offense and the speed on the defense is getting better," Winfield said. "We're still young and we're fast.

Talk about a real Minnesota battle. Offensive guard Adam Goldberg, an Edina (Minn.) High graduate, was given more playing time ahead of Adam Haayer, a Forest Lake (Minn.) graduate and former Minnesota Gopher.

"He needs to perform with a little more consistency, he being Adam Haayer," Tice said before the preseason finale. "I think that's turned into a little bit of a race now, a little bit of a battle, only by one's lack of performance and one's excellent performance."

Goldberg spent last season on the Vikings' practice squad. Haayer played five games for the Vikings two years ago, then spent last season on the practice squad. Both of the Minnesotans made the opening-day 53-man roster.

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