EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Antoine Winfield’s absence for much of Sunday’s game didn’t end up costing the Minnesota Vikings in their 37-34 playoff-clinching win against the Green Bay Packers.
Not having Winfield for Saturday’s postseason rematch against Green Bay would likely do more lasting damage.
Winfield, who broke a bone in his hand a week earlier in a win at Houston, started Sunday’s game and played much of the first half before the pain become too much and he had to sit out the remainder of Sunday’s win. In his place, backup cornerbacks A.J. Jefferson, who suffered an ankle injury himself, Josh Robinson and Marcus Sherels struggled to contain the Packers’ passing attack. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns without an interception.
Winfield’s status for Saturday’s playoff game is in doubt, and the short turnaround doesn’t help his chances of playing.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen with Antoine,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “We’ll see how he does throughout the week. He was in quite a bit of pain yesterday, so we’ll have to see how he does throughout the week, and make a decision, maybe, later on.”
Winfield’s right hand, which suffered a break to one of the small bones, was very swollen after the game, and the 14-year veteran cornerback felt he couldn’t keep playing.
“I wasn’t effective at all, really couldn’t grab nothing, couldn’t get off blocks,” Winfield said after the game. “I thought it was best if I came out.”
Winfield wore a cast early last week but had only a pad underneath his glove Sunday to alleviate the pain. Frazier said it pain management will be a major factor for Saturday’s game.
“It was tough for him,” Frazier said. “So we’ll have to see. But it was pain (that caused him to leave the game).”
Frazier said some of the week’s practices might need to be altered because of the short turnaround, and some injured players could be limited at times this week. Safety Harrison Smith will be limited with a shoulder injury. Frazier expects Brian Robison, who returned Sunday after missing one game with an AC sprain in his right shoulder, to be fine for the playoff game.
Frazier said running back Adrian Peterson felt better Monday with his abdominal pain than he did the previous week and should be ready for Saturday.
“(Peterson) said today he actually feels better than he felt a week ago on Monday after the Texans game,” Frazier said. “So that’s encouraging. So we’ll monitor his workload throughout the week. The fact that we’re on a short week we’ll have to do that with all our players. We’ll probably change how we structure practice and meetings because we’re on a short week. But it’s an exciting time for us.”