Thursday, June 4, 2009
Winfield not working out with team
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield is not participating in the team's offseason practices this week, a decision coinciding with stalled negotiations on a contract extension.
Winfield, who played in his first Pro Bowl in February, missed a mandatory minicamp last weekend to attend the funeral of a friend's mother. But he's been absent this week from organized team activities, the series of 14 non-padded practices held throughout the spring and early summer that aren't required but strongly encouraged.
Winfield wasn't the only one missing. Five other players from the 85-man roster weren't present Thursday, the only day practice was open this week to reporters. Running backs Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor were among the absent, and coach Brad Childress said he wasn't sure if they'd participate in the remaining workouts this month.
"They have surprised me back and forth when they are in and out," Childress said.
Winfield's absence is different, considering he has entered the final year of the deal he signed with the Vikings in 2004 as a free agent. He skipped most of the offseason workouts in 2007, vaguely describing his reasons as a difference in communication styles with Childress and a frustration with the direction of the offense after lackluster production the year before.
Winfield missed six games that season to injuries, and said later that working out on his own was the wrong choice.
Childress said he spoke with Winfield on Tuesday after the cornerback's required physical exam. The coach declined to characterize Winfield's decision as contract-related or otherwise. He said he wasn't concerned "in and of itself" by the absence.
"He is the one that made the statement, 'I wouldn't miss again,'" Childress said. "And up until halfway through our offseason program he was perfect in his attendance. Like I said, it would be wrong for me to color it in any specific direction."
Winfield's agent, Ashanti Webb, didn't return a message seeking comment. Webb said last month that negotiations were at an impasse.
Safety Tyrell Johnson wasn't worried.
"There's so many moving parts. Antoine's a great player. He knows the system," Johnson said. "He's a veteran, so when he comes he'll pick up right where he left off last year."