Kevin Williams was nowhere to be found on the practice field for the Minnesota Vikings on Friday. He’ll be much easier to spot on Sunday at Soldier Field.
Williams missed practice on Friday due to personal reasons, but Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said his defensive captain will be ready to make his season debut on Sunday against Chicago.
Williams missed the opener against Detroit with an injured right knee. The Vikings sorely missed their six-time Pro Bowler in the middle of their defense in a 34-24 loss to the Lions. Three weeks after being injured in a preseason game against San Francisco, Williams participated in the first two practices of this week and was listed as probable on the injury report.
Frazier said the Vikings would keep an eye on how Williams does early in the game against the Bears. They may have to limit his playing time as he works his way back into playing shape.
”We’ll have to monitor how he’s doing in between series, just talk to him sometimes, see how he’s coming along just to make sure that he’s functioning properly and we’ll be paying attention to him as well,” Frazier said after practice on Friday. ”But we’ll kind of have to play it by ear.”
The plan coming into the season was to ration Williams’ playing time more during the season to try to keep his 33-year-old legs fresh and maximize his potential as the season drags on. They drafted Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd in the first round to serve as an understudy to Williams, who is in the final year of his contract.
Floyd was up and down in his NFL debut against the Lions after missing almost three weeks with a knee injury himself. Fred Evans and Letroy Guion didn’t have much more success against Reggie Bush and the Lions, either.
”We’re glad he’s there,” Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams said on Thursday. ”I talked to him when we came back from Detroit and he said it was hard on him to be out of that ball game. I think as hard as it was on him it was harder for me not seeing him out there in the middle.”
The Vikings are relatively healthy going into another NFC North road game. Starting cornerback Josh Robinson is listed as probable with a quadriceps injury, as is right tackle Phil Loadholt with a knee injury, middle linebacker Erin Henderson with a heel injury and center John Sullivan with a knee injury.
Sullivan practiced on a limited basis all week after he was hit in the knee on a low block by Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who was fined $100,000 by the NFL for the play.
Special teamers Larry Dean (shoulder) and Mistral Raymond (shoulder) were also listed as probable.