Notebook: Vikings facing a tall order

The Vikings will face arguably the most talented receiver in the NFC North on Sunday. Cornerbacks Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin talk about the challenge. Plus, quotes on Matthew Stafford, a string of insight and entertainment from Brad Childress and an injury update.

Antoine Winfield looks up to Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson. With the Vikings cornerback being 5-foot-9 and the Lions receiver going 6-foot-5, Winfield isn't likely win a slam-dunk contest against Johnson. Good thing for Winfield the two are playing football.

The question is, will Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford try to turn things into a jump-ball contest. Winfield wouldn't be surprised.

"Absolutely. Like I said, he's 6-5 and (I'm) 5-9. Stafford is a new guy. I'm sure Calvin is lobbying to get the ball. We'll see what happens," Winfield said.

At some point, the numbers have to intersect. Winfield says he only saw one pass thrown his way by Browns quarterback Brady Quinn last Sunday, an out route to Joshua Cribbs after Quinn was forced to scramble.

On the same day in New Orleans, Johnson was targeted often by Stafford. Why not? Johnson seems to have it all. He has the height. He has the build at 235 pounds. And he has the speed, running the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds.

"You know, just think about that. That's tough for anybody to compete with, but we'll go out there and do our best," said cornerback Cedric Griffin.

Griffin doesn't believe that the Lions will target any specific matchup with Johnson, and Vikings coach Brad Childress said that Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan likes to move Johnson all over the field.

"I think Scott does a good job of displacing him. You only got one game of regular season (to look at)," Childress said. "They certainly weren't going to show all their wares certainly in the preseason, but he's motioned back and been an I-back – same as you've seen (Percy) Harvin come back there or Adrian (Peterson) come back there. So, yeah, they are displacing him a little bit and it's kind of a ‘Where's Waldo' type of deal. So you know that he is not always going to be lined up at split end. He's going to be in the slot. He's going to motion from side-to-side and you are going to have to find him and defend him." Griffin said the Vikings will focus on eliminating the deep passes.

"They love to throw the deep balls to him. Me, ‘Toine, Benny (Sapp), we're going to do our best to jump up with him and compete with him. We're going to put a game plan in for him and go from there, really," Griffin said.

Johnson was targeted 13 times by Stafford on Sunday. He caught only three of those passes, but they totaled 90 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown reception. In four games against the Vikings, Johnson has receiving totals of four catches for 61 yards and a touchdown, 1-17-0, 4-85-1 and 3-84-1. Winfield said he personally has fared well against the Johnson.

"I did pretty good. The thing is, you want to look and lean on deep balls. You know he's going to get the ball. I think last week they maybe threw in his direction 15 times. I'm sure we'll see the same thing this week," Winfield said.

According to Winfield, he was told by Browns receiver Braylon Edwards that Cleveland had game-planned to not throw to Winfield's side of the field. Griffin said he doesn't care anymore if he is targeted by offenses.

"I'm not really worried about what people say about me or if I'm the guy to be picked on this game or the next game," he said. "If they're going to throw me the ball, I'm going to get picks this year. So that's what I'm going to do. I welcome the challenge."

He held up to the challenge last week when he was the only Viking to get an interception.

"I watched Brady Quinn throw the ball. He leaned his shoulders and I knew it was a deep ball," Griffin said. "I just went and picked it. Easy."

It might not be as easy this week if Johnson is in the vicinity.


Despite Matthew Stafford starting off the season with a putrid 27.4 passer rating on 16 of 37 passing for 205 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said he had no reservations about starting the No. 1 overall pick in his first NFL game.

"No, I'm not a believer in holding things back. We made a criteria for Matt, for him to play when he was our best quarterback and when he was ready. We thought he had achieved both of those things," Schwartz said. "Matt is the kind of guy that has a very strong understanding of the offense and he has a good understanding of defenses and things like that. He doesn't struggle in the classroom, he doesn't struggle on the practice field. What he needs to do is he needs to play. Experience is a funny thing – you can only get it from doing it and that is what he needs."


Childress appeared on Sirius NFL Radio earlier this week and had a number of insights and one-liners.

  • He said running back Adrian Peterson "got a little high octane in his tank" when he went to the locker room in the second quarter to get fluids intravenously.

  • Childress was asked about the beard he started sporting recently and offered a National Geographic moment: "The average human beard, if you let it grow your whole life, will grow the size of a blue whale if you don't manicure it. I'm mindful of that. I just need to give you a little snippet of useless knowledge."

  • Childress on being careful with giving rookie Percy Harvin too much to handle: "We just want to make it small menu, great understanding. We talk about that all the time on offense and defense. More is not better necessarily. Whatever we do give, we just want to make sure he goes a million miles an hour and right now he's doing that."

  • Childress took responsibility for singling up center John Sullivan on nose tackle Shaun Rogers when Rogers recorded a sack of Favre on Sunday. Childress also praised rookie right tackle Phil Loadholt for "wiping a guy off" during an important screen pass to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. "It was just good football sense. We actually had something else for him to be doing. He's smart enough to see it," Childress said.


    The Vikings had no changes to their injury report on Thursday. LB Erin Henderson (calf) did not participate and LB Heath Farwell (hamstring) and guard Anthony Herrera (back) were limited.

    The Lions had only limited changes to their injury report. DE Cliff Avril (hamstring) and QB Drew Stanton (knee) did not participate while DT Andre Fluellen (knee), CB Williams James (foot) and CB Eric King (shoulder) continued to be limited. DT Grady Jackson (knee), who was limited on Wednesday, did not participate on Thursday. The Lions also added guard Daniel Loper (knee) to the report as a limited participant on Thursday.

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