EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- We made a big deal last week of the Minnesota Vikings' decision to take three healthy cornerbacks to New Orleans for the season opener against the Saints. NFL teams typically have at least four or five corners in uniform to account for multiple-receiver sets and potential injury, and on paper the Vikings seemed outmanned.
But if you made a list of reasons for the Vikings’ 14-9 loss, having three cornerbacks wouldn’t qualify. Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for a manageable 237 yards, and ultimately a defense that limits an opponent to 14 points has played winning football.
Still, I wonder if the Vikings are pushing their luck by preparing for a second game under those circumstances. One injury Sunday against the Miami Dolphins could dramatically alter how defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier utilizes sub packages.
Coach Brad Childress doesn’t disagree, and admitted Wednesday that “I’d like to have more corners available.” Ultimately, however, Childress said the organization wasn’t willing to make a significant move when two potential starters -- veteran Cedric Griffin and rookie Chris Cook -- are already a part of the 53-man roster and are relatively close to returning from knee injuries.
“You don’t want to take those guys and not have them on your roster and make them disappear because they’re going to get back in service," Childress said.
In essence, the Vikings are hoping to face a short-term storm risk until Griffin and/or Cook return. I suppose anything is possible, but that might not happen before next week at the earliest. Cook, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus Aug. 30, spent all of Wednesday’s practice with the scout team. At the time of the injury, ESPN analyst Stephania Bell suggested typical recovery time for similar injuries is four weeks. Griffin, meanwhile, is in only his second week of practice after recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
By not placing Griffin on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, the Vikings signaled that he would be ready to return before Week 6. But in Week 2? That might be a stretch. Childress did note that Griffin removed his knee brace this week and said “there’s been kind of an evolution.” But it’s still a bit early. The guess here is that Antoine Winfield, Asher Allen and Lito Sheppard will be the only cornerbacks in uniform Sunday at the Metrodome.