Winfield going ‘home'?

While the Vikings try to figure out the best plan going forward with CB Antoine Winfield as he deals with his foot injury, Winfield doesn't mind one adjustment the defense made with him. Plus, the Vikings and Giants released their final injury report Friday, and the Giants will be without a number of starters.

One of the biggest plays of Antoine Winfield's career came when he was line up across from the slot receiver against the Carolina Panthers last year. He came on a delayed blitz, sacked Jake Delhomme, recovered the fumble he caused and ran it into the end zone for a touchdown.

It was one of Winfield's marquee plays in the only Pro Bowl season of his 11-year NFL career.

Maybe that's why Winfield wasn't at all disappointed when talking about an adjustment the Vikings made the previous week. Winfield moved from his outside cornerback spot in nickel defense inside to cover the slot receiver. Benny Sapp took Winfield's spot outside and both seemed pleased with the move.

"It's been a while, but I've been doing that ever since college. I feel very comfortable in there. It gives me an opportunity to make tackles, blitz a little bit, which I've been doing the last couple of years," Winfield said of his move inside in the nickel defense.

"That's my spot. That's home for me. I came in in college and played nickel. That was my first position and then (coaches) moved me outside when I started getting more playing time. Nickel is my old position."

Sapp was equally pleased with his move to the outside on nickel situations.

"It's my ultimate goal, my dream. So it was good," Sapp said.

Winfield has played the last three games after missing six contests in the middle of the season with a foot injury, which still isn't 100 percent healed. His debut back in the lineup against Cincinnati was an excellent one, as he caused another key fumble that helped the Vikings advance momentum going into halftime, but since then he has had trouble in coverage and it is clear his foot is an issue.

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said the team has to do some things to adjust and help Winfield, but the coordinator and player both have said the foot isn't likely to heal completely until the offseason.

"He can do certain things, but there are some things he has trouble doing. He's come a long way, but there are some things that give him a little trouble," Frazier said. "From everything I've been told, I don't think giving him more time would have made that much of a difference, based on where we are in the football season."

Winfield is willing to fight through the pain at this point, as he has the last two weeks.

"When I came back and played in that Cincinnati game, I kind of went all out and then the next week I felt it and last week felt it some more," he said. "You can always say I came back too early, but I feel pretty good, although it's not where I want it to be, but the season is still going. I have to fight through it."

He indicated that the pain comes and goes during a game, depending on what sort of stress is put on the foot. Right now, the major issue is pushing off, but he said he will continue to get treatment and try to improve.

The question now is whether a healthy backup – Benny Sapp, Asher Allen or Karl Paymah, or any combination of them – is better than a limited Winfield.

"We're exploring that and talking that through and trying to come to some conclusions in that area," Frazier said.

Winfield said Frazier hasn't talked to him extensively about that possibility.

"I'm pretty much at my home position. I'll be doing whatever they want me to do, pretty much. I'm going to go out, I'm studying to get prepared and do whatever they want me to do," he said.

"… We need to win this game, but I'm going to do whatever I'm asked to do. If they want me to go out there and start, I'm going to start. Play nickel, (I'll) play nickel. Or sit out, I'll do that too. I'm a competitor. I definitely want to be on the field Sunday."

With the Vikings' failure to lock up a first or second seed in the NFC playoffs, they need to win Sunday and have Philadelphia lose to get a first-round bye. That could put additional pressure on the Vikings to have Winfield on the field Sunday often against the New York Giants.

"For where we are in our season and the importance of this ballgame, if he can help our football team, then we have got to have him out there," Frazier said. "It's just a matter of putting him in the best position to be successful, and that's what we've got to do. It's a very, very important game for us."


  • DT Jimmy Kennedy (thumb) is doubtful and missed the whole week of practice. TE Visanthe Shiancoe (thigh) and DT Pat Williams (elbow) are questionable and were limited the last two days. G Steve Hutchinson (shoulder), CB Antoine Winfield (foot), S Eric Frampton (ankle), C John Sullivan (knee) are all probable, meaning they are a virtual certainty to play Sunday against New York.

  • The Giants are loaded with injuries. RB Brandon Jacobs, CB Aaron Ross, DT Chris Canty, T Kareem McKenzie and CB Corey Webster are all either starters or big contributors and are out. RB Ahmad Bradshaw, DE Justin Tuck, G Rich Seubert and WR Mario Manningham are questionable.

    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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