The one thing you really don't want to see on your team's final injury report before the team's first playoff game in three years is your starting quarterback and best defensive back listed as 'questionable', but they are.
Yes, Christian Ponder (elbow) and Antoine Winfield (hand) are both dealing with issues that could be problematic as the Vikings head to Lambeau Field for Saturday night's wild card playoff game against the Packers.
Ponder banged his elbow on a Packer defender's helmet during last Sunday's victory at Lambeau, and the team reported he was 'limited' in practice during the week. Maybe I'm just being too much of a worrier, or looking far to deep into things, but I'm kind of the opinion that it would be better for a young and still developing quarterback to get as much work as possible prior to said playoff game than a 'limited' amount in a best case scenario.
Over at 1500espn.com, Vikings beat writer Tom Pelissero made two key observations about Ponder with the elbow situation during his chat today:
Very interested to see how he plays tomorrow with a sore elbow and limited practice work. Last time he tried that, it didn't go well.
That 'last time' would be the road game in Detroit last year, where he threw a gajillion picks and got yanked for Joe Webb. There was also this:
It seems like he's OK. My question is how much was his practice load limited? Leslie Frazier said he got mostly mental reps, which would scare me if I'm the Vikings. Last time he did that, he got the start at Detroit and committed four turnovers before getting the hook. There's also a chance he's taken more reps than they're letting on and they just want to plant the seed that Joe Webb might have to play. Hard to tell without having access to practice.
Hmm. Could Leslie Frazier be doing a rope a dope? Maybe. I hope so. Still, I have now moved my concern meter about Ponder's elbow from 'not worried' to 'son of a...'
If he struggles, you Spiderman zealots might get your wish.
As for Winfield, he went out last week when he tried to jam a Packers receiver at the line. The pain flared up, and got to the point where Winfield wasn't effective. The Vikings think they have solved or greatly improved Winfield's situation with a more durable soft cast, and listening to Winfield's comments, I don't see him coming out unless his hand falls off.
And yes, Antoine Winfield with one hand is better in coverage than Marcus Sherels with 2. Or 11.
Finally, a few days ago it was reported that Adrian Peterson wants to play special teams. Specifically, edge rusher on a field goal block and kickoff return. I don't see him ever doing the former, but you may remember he's done the latter.
In 2007, his rookie year, he returned 16 kicks for a respectable 25.6 yard average. And in one of his coming out games at Soldier Field (Vikes won 34-31 on a 55 yd FG as time expired, AP had 224 yards and 3 scores on 20 carries, three weeks before SD game) he returned his final kick over 50 yards to put the Vikings in position to win the game.
With Percy Harvin out and the cold weather at Lambeau, the ball isn't going to travel through the end zone. Imagine a Cyborg with a full head of steam and a full field of view to operate in.
Yeah, I'd be down with that.
T minus 26 hours and counting. SKOL!