NFC North: Josh Robinson

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- A look at the highlights from the first day of the Minnesota Vikings' mandatory minicamp on Tuesday:

1. Loaded for Barr: The Vikings got first-round pick Anthony Barr on the field for the first time with their full team on Tuesday, after he graduated from UCLA over the weekend, and head coach Mike Zimmer didn't hesitate to try out some of the different ways he wants to use the linebacker. Barr was at the strong-side linebacker position the Vikings expect him to play, but he also lined up as an edge rusher on some third downs. At 6-foot-4, he's taller than defensive ends Brian Robison and Everson Griffen, and if he can rush from the line of scrimmage, the Vikings can present a number of different looks to confuse opposing offenses, especially when Griffen's versatility enters the equation.

[+] EnlargeMinnesota's Anthony Barr
Bruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY SportsFirst-round pick Anthony Barr participated on the field on the first day of Vikings' mandatory minicamp.
2. Robinson returns: Cornerback Josh Robinson was back on the field on Tuesday, after missing the Vikings' organized team activities with a muscle pull. He was also back at an outside cornerback position, following last year's failed experiment at slot cornerback. Robinson got plenty of snaps in the Vikings' first-team defense on Tuesday, and could wind up playing in the nickel package once Captain Munnerlyn moves inside.

3. Quarterbacks look sharp: The Vikings ran plenty of play-action and bootleg plays on Tuesday, and all three of their quarterbacks had a successful afternoon practice. Matt Cassel missed just one of the nine throws he attempted in 11-on-11 and was 5-for-5 in 7-on-7 work. Teddy Bridgewater was 15-for-17 in 11-on-11 action and 4-for-5 in 7-on-7, and Christian Ponder hit all four throws he attempted. Ponder again got fewer snaps than Cassel or Bridgewater, but he looked good in what he was asked to do. "Everyone's getting reps with the ones and twos," Ponder said. "I'm not getting as many reps as the other guys, but I'm trying to take full advantage, and we'll see what happens. I don't know how long the evaluation process is going to be. I'm hoping it goes into training camp and preseason games, but we'll see."

4. Jennings impresses: Wide receiver Greg Jennings, who missed the Vikings' open OTA last week because of a charity event, caught four balls on the first day of minicamp, and saved his best for last, reaching out for a one-handed grab over the middle on a throw from Cassel in 7-on-7.

5. Middle linebacker plan emerges? The Vikings used Jasper Brinkley, Chad Greenway and Michael Mauti at middle linebacker on Tuesday, noticeably keeping Audie Cole on the outside after Cole played the middle at the end of last season. Brinkley has gotten more first-team work than anyone else in the middle, so far, but Zimmer cautioned not to read too much into that. "We have to line them up somewhere when we go, but I don't look at this guy is the favorite or that guy is the starter," he said. "(Brinkley)'s lined up with the first team right now, but I don't know, once we get him in practice and games and the things that prepare us for games and for the season, that will determine who lines up there on Sept. 7."

6. Safeties still limited: Jamarca Sanford was able to do a little more work after missing OTAs with a muscle injury, but the Vikings were mostly using Robert Blanton, Mistral Raymond, Antone Exum and Kurt Coleman, with Blanton often pairing with Harrison Smith in 7-on-7 drills. Safety Andrew Sendejo was still limited with a back injury. Tight end Allen Reisner sat out, and running back Joe Banyard was a limited participant. Matt Kalil and Linval Joseph were again limited after knee and shoulder surgeries this offseason, but Zimmer said he expects both to be ready for training camp.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings were missing a handful of players because of injuries during Thursday's organized team activities. That included left tackle Matt Kalil, who had an operation four or five weeks ago, coach Mike Zimmer said.

Zimmer would not elaborate on the operation, other than to say it was not on Kalil's shoulder. The 2012 first-round pick was limited to individual drills Thursday.

Safety Andrew Sendejo was also out after having an operation on his back recently, Zimmer said, and cornerback Josh Robinson and safety Jamarca Sanford missed time because of pulled muscles during Wednesday's OTA.s

"They're day-to-day," Zimmer said of Robinson and Sanford. "It's nothing much."

Defensive tackle Linval Joseph is working his way back from a previous injury as well, but Zimmer said Joseph -- who signed a five-year deal with the team in March -- is getting close to returning to the field.
MINNEAPOLIS -- On a defense that had plenty of holes last year, it's difficult to argue the Minnesota Vikings' biggest problem was anything other than their secondary. They gave up more points than any team in the league, allowed the second-most passing yards and ranked in the bottom third in the NFL in touchdown-to-interception ratio, first downs per passing attempt and yards per attempt.

The Vikings signed Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn to play the slot position after their experiment with Josh Robinson backfired last season, and they picked up former Chargers cornerback Derek Cox after San Diego released him in March. With other needs to address in the draft, though, the Vikings didn't add any help for their secondary until the sixth and seventh rounds, when they selected three defensive backs -- Virginia Tech's Antone Exum, Maine's Kendall James and North Carolina's Jabari Price.

Of the three, Exum might have the most immediate chance to contribute. He'll begin his time with the Vikings as a safety, and he's over a year removed from a torn ACL he sustained in a pickup basketball game in January 2013. Exum also missed time with a sprained ankle after his return from knee surgery last season, and he might have slipped in the draft due to concerns about his health and because he had so few chances to prove himself in front of scouts last season. The Vikings will have plenty of competition at safety opposite Harrison Smith, though, and Exum is impressive enough physically that he might attract attention in training camp.

"My strengths are my speed, my size, ball skills, physicality, point of attack and tackling," Exum said in a conference call Saturday. "I feel like I have unique covering ability and also to make the big play at the big moment."

As a whole, though, the Vikings will once again be betting on the ability of young players to develop quickly in the secondary -- and they'll be doing so without the help of another high pick at defensive back. New coach Mike Zimmer initially made his reputation coaching defensive backs, and secondary coach Jerry Gray was previously the Tennessee Titans' defensive coordinator, so the Vikings should be able to give their defensive backs plenty of help. General manager Rick Spielman also left the door open for a later addition in the secondary, adding "you are not done when the draft is done.

"There are going to be some things that happen through the rest of the season, but I know we don't play until September, so there can be a lot of things as we go through," he said.

Short of signing a veteran later in the offseason -- possibly after June 1, when salary cap rules make it easier for teams to shed large contracts -- the Vikings will need defensive backs to emerge quickly. That could be Robinson beating out Cox for playing time now that he's back outside, someone taking charge other safety position or one of the team's late-round picks catching on sooner than expected. Munnerlyn solved a major need in the secondary, but at least at this point, it appears the Vikings will be counting on player development to solve their other ones.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings players are on a one-week break from the team's offseason workout program, and many of them will return next week for the team's voluntary veteran minicamp. The Vikings got to start their offseason program two weeks earlier than most teams, after hiring new coach Mike Zimmer, but that doesn't mean they get to have a longer program than the rest of the league. As such, players are on their own this week, though there are still handfuls of players working out at the team's facility.

But when the Vikings do get back together, they'll likely have high attendance for their minicamp, as they've had for the beginning of their offseason program and they've had for their programs in years past. For many players, in addition to a chance to get extra work with teammates and make a good impression on coaches, there's money to be earned by participating in the team's offseason program.

Like many teams, the Vikings include workout bonuses in the contracts of veteran players, offering them an incentive to spend time in a structured program where the team can keep track of what they're doing and give them opportunities to work with players. The bonuses generally aren't offered to players in their rookie contracts, but some draft picks, like cornerback Xavier Rhodes and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, have $100,000 bonuses in the fourth year of their rookie deals.

This season, the Vikings could pay out as much as $1,695,000 in workout bonuses to players who participate in the majority of their offseason program. Those bonuses range from $250,000 (for running back Adrian Peterson) all the way down to $10,000 (for cornerback Josh Robinson and long-snapper Cullen Loeffler). Peterson, of course, hasn't been with the team yet during its offseason workouts, instead staying in Houston to do rehab work after his January groin surgery, but he said earlier this month he hopes to join the Vikings for their offseason program soon.

Here is the full list of the Vikings' 2014 workout bonuses, according to ESPN Stats & Information contract data:

 
MINNEAPOLIS -- Of the many young players on the Minnesota Vikings' roster who earned playing time and performance bonuses from the NFL for their work last season, right guard Brandon Fusco topped the list.

Fusco earned an extra $237,060.74 for his work last season, giving him the biggest share of the Vikings' $3.46 million total distribution, according to figures released by the NFL management council. The total amount is negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement between owners and players, and while every player gets at least a small bonus, the system is designed to reward low-salaried players who see the most playing time.

For a team like the Vikings, that meant a number of players saw big boosts to their paycheck; Fusco made just $594,167 last season, and he started 15 games.

See the NFL's full list of performance-based pay distributions here.
MINNEAPOLIS -- A year ago this week, the Minnesota Vikings cut veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield, making Chris Cook the senior member of a secondary the team was gambling could work without a proven veteran in the group. Cook was entering his fourth season and seemed to take the charge of extra responsibility seriously; he went back to school at the University of Virginia over the summer, working toward his degree and making sure to stay out of trouble, and came to training camp proclaiming he was ready to have the kind of breakout season that would lead to a long-term contract.

Cook
Cook is on his way out of Minnesota a year later, heading to the San Francisco 49ers on a one-year contract, closing a disappointing chapter of the Vikings' struggles to stock their secondary through the draft. They spent a second-round pick on Cook in 2010, only to see him get suspended for the second half of the 2011 season as he battled a domestic assault charge, struggle with injuries throughout his career and fail to make plays on the ball. His 29 starts without an interception are the second most by a defensive back in NFL history, and his most memorable moments of the 2013 season came on plays he was in position to make but couldn't close out -- such as the touchdown Alshon Jeffery caught over the top of Cook's head on Dec. 1, running almost five yards holding the ball just above Cook's helmet. The cornerback stuck an arm back toward Jeffery, but never turned his head to locate the ball, and was subsequently ejected for making contact with an official, whom Cook argued should have called pass interference two plays before.

Cook is 6-foot-2 and has the size and speed to match up against big receivers, which is why the 49ers are spending a low-risk deal on the chance they can turn him around. But he exits Minnesota as the latest cornerback not to make it after being taken early in the draft. Xavier Rhodes, one of the Vikings' three 2013 first-rounders, looks as though he can play, but 2012 third-rounder Josh Robinson still has much to prove. Cook was a second-rounder in 2010, and 2009 third-rounder Asher Allen was gone after starting 21 games in three seasons. Marcus McCauley, a third-round pick in 2007, washed out of Minnesota after two seasons, and while 2006 second-rounder Cedric Griffin looked as though he'd turn into a solid cornerback, two torn ACLs ended his career. Griffen and 2002 fourth-rounder Brian Williams are the only two Vikings draft picks to start more than three years at cornerback in the last 12 years.

Rhodes has a chance to reverse that trend, and while the Vikings have had plenty of trouble pinning down safeties, Harrison Smith looks like a star on the rise heading into his third season. But the Vikings' inability to stock one of the league's most important positions stands out as a major black mark on their recent draft history. Cook's ignominious exit from Minnesota is only the latest example of it.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Shortly after they finished a deal with former Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, the Minnesota Vikings were preparing to add another cornerback to their roster. According to a league source, the Vikings were finalizing a deal on Thursday night with former San Diego Chargers cornerback Derek Cox, who could add some depth to their group of defensive backs next season.

Cox
The 6-foot-1 Cox began last season as a starter for the Chargers, but lost his starting job for good after he was benched three times in four weeks last November. Cox gave up three catches and a touchdown on three targets last Nov. 24 against Kansas City, and didn't play a significant role after that. Still, he had been a serviceable player in 2012, and intercepted four passes that season for the Jaguars. He'd give the Vikings another big corner, and he'd represent a low-risk gamble by the Vikings on the ability of coach Mike Zimmer and defensive backs coach Jerry Gray to get something out of Cox.

He might also represent another closed door for a return by Chris Cook to the Vikings. The four-year player's future seemed uncertain after a conversation with Zimmer last week, and though Zimmer mentioned his ability to improve players who have a history of underachieving, like Cook does, the Vikings' order of business might tell the story better than anything else. They signed Munnerlyn and Cox on the same day Cook was scheduled to visit the San Francisco 49ers, and the Vikings now have eight cornerbacks signed for next season.

Of those eight -- Munnerlyn, Cox, Xavier Rhodes, Josh Robinson, Marcus Sherels, Shaun Prater, Robert Steeples and Kip Edwards -- only a handful might make the team, but the Vikings could also take another cornerback high in the draft. Those players might occupy whatever real estate and cap space was remaining for Cook to make a return to Minnesota.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings will continue their attempt to bolster their defense through free agency on Wednesday and Thursday, bringing in former Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn for a visit, according to an NFL source.

Munnerlyn
Munnerlyn would fill one of the Vikings' most glaring needs from last season: slot cornerback. The team cut veteran Antoine Winfield last March, gambling on Josh Robinson's ability to move from the outside to the slot position. The Vikings tried to bring Winfield back on a reduced contract, and when Robinson struggled to pick up the position last September, the team nearly signed Winfield out of retirement before their Sept. 29 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in London. Now, they will have a shot to get a younger fit at the position.

The 25-year-old Munnerlyn has started the past three seasons for the Panthers, intercepting two passes -- and returning both interceptions for touchdowns -- each of the past two seasons. He was a key cog on a Panthers team that reached the division playoffs last season, and allowed an 81.7 passer rating when in slot coverage last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Robinson, on the other hand, allowed a 127.2 passer rating.

The Vikings will also bring former Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton in for a visit on Thursday, and hosted former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain on Monday. They signed New York Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph to a five-year, $31.5 million deal shortly after the start of free agency on Tuesday.
MINNEAPOLIS -- For as much as the first day of free agency was marked by the Vikings' ability to add a critical piece to their defense in former New York Giants tackle Linval Joseph, it ended with several cornerbacks finding other teams. Indianapolis' Vontae Davis re-signed with the Colts for $39 million over the next four years, New England's Aqib Talib got $57 million over six years from Denver, while Tennessee's Alterraun Verner -- in whom the Vikings had expressed interest on Saturday -- signed not to play with his old defensive coordinator (new Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray) in Minnesota, but with former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier in Tampa Bay.

Verner only got $26 million over four years (with $14 million guaranteed), which might reflect some teams' apprehension about putting him in a man coverage scheme. The Titans had used man coverage more often early last season, but Verner's best work there had been as a zone corner, and teams that plan to play a good chunk of man coverage -- like the Vikings now do -- might have decided Verner wasn't their best fit. That won't be a problem in Tampa, where the Buccaneers will lean heavily on the Cover-2 scheme used by Frazier and head coach Lovie Smith in their previous stops. But it does leave the Vikings still looking elsewhere for a corner.

So where might they look? Denver's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could be an option, especially now that the Broncos spent their money on Talib. He's 6-foot-2, is only 28 and was compared to Terence Newman (a Mike Zimmer favorite in Dallas and Cincinnati) when entering the draft in 2008. Miami's Nolan Carroll is another big corner who has essentially played in Zimmer's scheme; Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle was Zimmer's defensive backs coach in Cincinnati before going to Miami, and Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards was brought to town in part because he'd been working in the same scheme as the Dolphins' linebackers coach. Carroll would be cheaper than Rodgers-Cromartie, and he's a couple years younger, too. Cincinnati's Brandon Ghee could fit, for obvious reasons. And if the Vikings are looking for a slot corner after Josh Robinson struggled there last year, Carolina's Captain Munnerlyn could be an option, as Andrew Krammer of 1500ESPN.com points out.

One thing I don't see happening -- and the thing I probably got more questions about today than anything else -- is Darrelle Revis coming to Minnesota. Revis is only 28, and might be the best man coverage corner in the game when he's on, but he's had lots of contract squabbles, and will probably have more interest from teams closer to a championship than the Vikings.

Lastly, it's important to remember what Zimmer said last week about how he wanted to build his defense. "My thing has always been play good team defense, not just be great players, but be good as a team," he said. "I do believe you can be real good, if you get the correct guys in there that buy into the system, that want to play for one another, that want to take ownership in something bigger than themselves. Everybody sees that Maserati and they want to go buy it and you know you probably shouldn’t. You should probably buy a Ford F-150 like I got. Because if you get the F-150, you can keep building the pieces you need. So I think we have to be smart about it."

The Vikings could still draft a corner like Justin Gilbert in the first round. They could sign someone like Rodgers-Cromartie or Carroll, or possibly take a look at Seattle's Brandon Browner (who will be suspended for the first four games of the season). The position remains at or near the top of the Vikings' list of needs, but it might not get fixed with a $40 million investment on the free-agent market.

We'll see how things develop over the next few days, but options still remain for the Vikings at corner.

Countdown to combine: Vikings DBs

February, 19, 2014
Feb 19
2:40
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Hello from Indiana, where we're setting up camp in advance of the NFL scouting combine. We're back at it with our Countdown to Combine series, looking at four positions where the Minnesota Vikings need help heading into the 2014 draft. It all leads up to our coverage of the combine, which begins on Thursday.

Position of need: Defensive back

The Vikings allowed more points than any team in the league last season, and a secondary that suffered in the wake of Antoine Winfield's departure was a big part of the problem. Josh Robinson struggled to fill the slot corner position Winfield had played so well -- to the point where the Vikings nearly brought Winfield out of retirement before their Sept. 29 game in London -- and cornerback Chris Cook continued to struggle in man coverage, exposing the team's passing game during a season when their safeties were beset with injuries.

Three players the Vikings might be targeting:

Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State: The cornerback would give the Vikings another big cover corner to pair with Xavier Rhodes. He's at the top of Mel Kiper Jr.'s cornerback rankings Insider, and could be the kind of player the Vikings can get if they wind up trading back a few spots from the No. 8 overall pick. New coach Mike Zimmer will likely use more man coverage than the Vikings have employed in the past, and being able to put Gilbert with Rhodes would be an impressive foundation for the Vikings' secondary.

Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State: He isn't far behind Gilbert in many rankings, and would bring a similar skill set; Dennard can also be a press corner, and like Gilbert, he would give the Vikings a corner with a knack for making big plays. That element, in particular, would be a welcome addition to the Vikings' secondary; Cook has started the second-most games in NFL history without recording an interception.

Jason Verrett, TCU: The 5-foot-10 corner would provide a different kind of option from Gilbert and Dennard; he would likely be able to step in and play slot cornerback, if the Vikings' new defensive staff didn't feel Robinson had grown enough to handle the job. In any case, it might behoove the Vikings to have another option for the position.

Upon Further Review: Vikings Week 15

December, 16, 2013
12/16/13
8:00
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MINNEAPOLIS -- A review of four hot issues following the Minnesota Vikings' 48-30 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday:

Cassel starts again: Coach Leslie Frazier said after Sunday's game there are "no questions" about the Vikings' starting quarterback for next Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals after Matt Cassel threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another one. That means, at most, Josh Freeman will get one more chance to play this season, and at this point it seems highly unlikely that will happen. What's probably more interesting now is what happens between the two quarterbacks the Vikings have under contract for next season -- Cassel and Christian Ponder. Cassel can opt out of his deal after this season, but if the Vikings draft another quarterback next spring, they might be well-served by keeping Cassel and letting him start the season until -- or unless -- the rookie is ready.

Wright
Wright emerges: Second-year receiver Jarius Wright, who had been a forgotten man after a solid second half in 2012, had his biggest game of the season on Sunday, catching four passes for 95 yards. Wright began the season as the Vikings' third receiver before becoming their fourth option in recent weeks as Cordarrelle Patterson's role in the offense grew. But Wright hauled in a 42-yard pass from Cassel on Sunday, and looked like the kind of downfield slot threat he was at times last season.

Patterson shut out on kickoffs: The Eagles went into Sunday's game clearly wanting to avoid Patterson on kickoffs, but the Vikings might take the alternative; Philadelphia's short kicks helped Minnesota start four drives at its own 30 or better after kickoffs, and though the Vikings didn't get a chance to let Patterson break a big return, they got more consistent field position than even the rookie returning dynamo likely would've been able to provide. Frazier said the Vikings could toy with the idea of putting Patterson on punt returns next week, simply as another way to get the ball in his hands.

Thin secondary survives: The Vikings were missing their top three corners -- Chris Cook, Xavier Rhodes and Josh Robinson -- on Sunday, but they held up reasonably well against an Eagles offense most expected to burn Minnesota's thin secondary. Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles threw for 428 yards, but had only 144 at halftime and got many of his second-half yards after the Vikings had built a big lead. Cornerback Shaun Prater had the first interception of his career, and safety Harrison Smith returned from a two-month layoff to post eight tackles in his first game back from turf toe. Cook, meanwhile, missed Sunday's game after a knee injury cropped up late in the week. His frequent injuries could prevent him from landing a big contract when he hits the open market next March. And while Prater got his first pick on Sunday, Cook is still waiting for his, four years into his career.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings hadn't made a decision on Adrian Peterson or Toby Gerhart's status as of Saturday afternoon, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, and it's possible the team will work out one or both injured running backs before Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. But of the several roster moves the Vikings made on Saturday afternoon, one could be an indicator they're expecting they could be thin at running back.

They activated running back Joe Banyard from the practice squad, giving them two healthy running backs before Sunday's game. The Vikings typically have three running backs (Peterson, Gerhart and Matt Asiata) and a fullback (Jerome Felton) active on game days, and in a worst-case scenario, they'd at least have Asiata and Banyard on Sunday.

Peterson and Gerhart both did some light work on Friday, and coach Leslie Frazier was particularly encouraged by how Peterson -- who sprained his right foot last Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens -- looked in practice on Friday. He said Peterson's gait looked good, adding the reigning NFL MVP was able to run and cut in some of the things the Vikings asked him to do. Peterson also said he felt he could manage his current level of pain in a game, but it remains to be seen whether the Vikings will risk further injury to Peterson as they're 3-9-1 and eliminated from the playoffs.

Gerhart, who replaced Peterson and strained his right hamstring on a 41-yard touchdown run last Sunday, said he felt good on Friday, though Frazier said the Vikings hadn't seen if Gerhart could accelerate quickly yet.

If the Vikings were left with Asiata and Banyard, they'd have the same running back tandem they did in their final preseason game. Asiata ran for 32 yards and a touchdown that night, while Banyard surpassed 100 rushing and receiving yards. The Vikings also signed diminutive running back Bradley Randle -- who had been with them in training camp -- to their practice squad this week.

As expected, the Vikings activated safety Harrison Smith from injured reserve on Saturday, and put cornerback Josh Robinson on IR to make room for Smith. Robinson, who has a fractured sternum, will see his season end after struggling early in the year as Antoine Winfield's replacement at slot cornerback.

The Vikings also signed cornerback Robert Steeples from their practice squad for some extra secondary depth with Xavier Rhodes doubtful and Chris Cook questionable for Sunday's game, and waived tackle Mike Remmers.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- While the Vikings are waiting to see whether running backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart are able to play Sunday, they'll have to figure out how to handle one of the league's hottest offenses with a secondary that is looking increasingly thin.

Cook
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes is doubtful for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles with a sprained ankle, coach Leslie Frazier said Friday, and cornerback Chris Cook showed up on the Vikings' injury report for the first time Friday with a knee injury that limited him in practice. The oft-injured cornerback is listed as questionable, and if both he and Rhodes were to miss the game, it would leave the Vikings without their top three cornerbacks Sunday.

Frazier said he would likely start Marcus Sherels in place of Rhodes, but he would have to figure out another plan if Cook were unable to go. The Vikings have been using safety Robert Blanton at cornerback, and he would likely play there Sunday. Shaun Prater is also healthy, and the Vikings have cornerbacks Kip Edwards and Robert Steeples on their practice squad. They also worked out several cornerbacks this week, Frazier said.

"When we’re getting as thin as we are, everybody is a candidate to be moved around," Frazier said. "So you don’t rule out any possibilities at this point."

The Vikings have the league's second-worst defense this season as it is, and with so many players missing in the secondary, they could be easy prey for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles on Sunday.

In other Vikings injury news:
  • Gerhart did some work in practice Friday, though Frazier said the Vikings didn't test his quickness as much as his overall stride. They will continue to evaluate him Saturday and possibly Sunday. "To get out there and move around, I felt pretty good," Gerhart said. "We'll take it day-to-day, keep getting treatment, keep evaluating and see what happens."
  • Tight end John Carlson will miss Sunday's game with a concussion, leaving the Vikings with only Rhett Ellison and Chase Ford at the position.
  • Cornerback Josh Robinson (fractured sternum) is still out.
  • Guard Brandon Fusco (knee) did not practice Friday and is doubtful for Sunday's game, though Frazier said Fusco "has a chance" to play. The Vikings had guard Jeff Baca -- who has been inactive for all but one game this season -- working in Joe Berger's special-teams spot Friday, indicating they would likely put Berger at Fusco's right guard spot.
  • Linebackers Larry Dean (knee) and Chad Greenway (wrist) are probable for Sunday's game. Greenway, who has been playing with a broken wrist all season, said he has been able to function better now that he's playing with a pad on both sides of his wrist, rather than a full cast, and sounded optimistic Friday that he wouldn't need surgery to set the bone after the season.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings were still waiting on many of their injured players to get back on the practice field on Thursday, and coach Leslie Frazier is holding out hope that several of them will be able to practice Friday and play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Gerhart
Peterson
Peterson
Chief among those players are running backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, both of whom sat out again on Thursday. Peterson worked his sprained right foot in a pool, and will try to practice on Friday. Frazier still sounded more optimistic about the chances of Gerhart, who has a strained hamstring, playing than he did about Peterson. "[We need] to see if he can burst a little bit with a hamstring," Frazier said.

Frazier said the Vikings could wait until Sunday before declaring Peterson or Gerhart out for the game, depending on how they look Friday, but it's safe to say both running backs would have to give the Vikings some hope with how they look on Friday.

Asked about Peterson's chances, Frazier said, "Everything he's done has been in a pool, so it would be premature for me to suggest that it was possible. We'll have to wait and see."

Tight end John Carlson still has not cleared NFL concussion protocol, and if he doesn't do so in time to practice on Friday, he would likely miss Sunday's game as well. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes missed his second day of practice, and will be "touch-and-go" with his sprained ankle, Frazier said. Given how well Rhodes has played in the last two weeks -- and how tall of a task the Vikings will have against the Eagles' offense -- the rookie might be nearly as important as the two running backs.

Here is the Vikings' full injury report:
  • Did not practice: RB Adrian Peterson (groin/foot); RB Toby Gerhart (hamstring), CB Xavier Rhodes (ankle), TE John Carlson (concussion), CB Josh Robinson (chest), G Brandon Fusco (knee).
  • Limited participant: LB Larry Dean (knee).
  • Full participant: LB Chad Greenway (wrist).
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- While Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had reason to believe he'd avoided a serious foot injury on Monday, coach Leslie Frazier was dealing with plenty of other injury news, not all of it good.

The team placed tight end Kyle Rudolph on injured reserve with a fractured foot, ending his season five weeks after he got hurt against the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 3. John Carlson, who has 32 catches this season and had done a solid job as Rudolph's replacement, sustained a concussion on Sunday in Baltimore.

Tight end wasn't the only position where the Vikings found themselves without much depth. Running back Toby Gerhart strained his hamstring on his 41-yard touchdown run on Sunday, and could be out or limited against the Philadelphia Eagles. If Peterson and Gerhart can't go, the Vikings would be left with third-string halfback Matt Asiata, fullback Jerome Felton or practice squad running back Joe Banyard.

The Vikings also lost cornerback Xavier Rhodes to a sprained right ankle; Rhodes was on crutches for the second straight day on Monday. The team is still trying to decide whether to activate safety Harrison Smith from injured reserve, though Smith seemed optimistic last week he could return from turf toe, and cornerback Josh Robinson is still out because of a fractured sternum. Depending on how many players the Vikings have missing from their secondary, they could add a defensive back from their practice squad or sign one this week.

Right guard Brandon Fusco also strained his knee on Sunday, and the Vikings decided to keep wide receiver Greg Childs on the physically unable to perform list for the rest of the season. Childs had torn the patellar tendons in both knees during training camp in 2012, and while he "did a good job in his returns, did some things we were glad to see," Frazier said, the Vikings decided not to risk bringing him back for the final three games of the season.

In one piece of good injury news for the Vikings, quarterback Christian Ponder has passed the NFL's concussion protocol and is ready to return this week. Frazier said the Vikings' coaching staff would make a decision on a starting quarterback for Sunday's game later this week. Matt Cassel started in relief of Ponder on Sunday, throwing for 265 yards in the loss to the Ravens.

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