Antoine Winfield tests new cast, says he will play on Saturday
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The odds continue to appear good Antoine Winfield will play on Saturday. He'll just have to do it without practicing, although that's nothing new for the veteran cornerback.
Winfield remained a spectator on Thursday as the Minnesota Vikings held their final full practice on a short week before their NFC wild-card playoff against Green Bay.
He played only 18 snaps before dropping out of last weekend's win over the Packers in the second quarter because of pain and swelling in his broken right hand. On Thursday, Winfield wore a cast while going through limited reps in the walkthrough reporters were allowed to see.
"We didn't have him do anything other than some things on the side," coach Leslie Frazier said. "But we wanted him to get a good comfort level with that cast on and he does have a good comfort level. So, we feel better about him."
Winfield was listed as not having taken part in the practice on the Vikings' injury report but afterward said he definitely will play against the Packers. "It's going to hurt," Winfield said. "There is no way around that. I have a very high tolerance for pain but I'm not focusing on that. I'm just going out there focusing on my assignments, executing and playing football."
Winfield broke the hand in the Vikings' victory at Houston in Week 16. Last Sunday he wore a glove with a protecting padding on it. That didn't work, however, and Winfield realized he could not continue after he attempted to jam Packers receiver Greg Jennings at the line of scrimmage and felt a surge of pain.
"I couldn't take that," he said.
Winfield, whose hand remains swollen, will have a cast that will cover the injured area but not his fingers and thumb. That will mean intercepting a pass might be a little difficult. "Tackling and all that stuff, I'll be able to do that," he said.
Said Frazier: "He was actually over there hitting the dummies and doing some things to jar it, just to see how it would feel, and he said it felt great. So, that was encouraging, very encouraging."
As far as a potential backup plan if the pain becomes too much for Winfield again, Frazier said cornerbacks A.J. Jefferson, Brandon Burton and Marcus Sherels got work inside this week but rookie Josh Robinson was left outside.
Sherels easily has gotten the most reps this season as the backup nickel corner. Sherels had some struggles last Sunday after replacing Winfield.
"I just have to be a little bit more aggressive in my playing and come up and make tackles and fly around," Sherels said. "Obviously, it's hard to replace a Pro Bowl corner line 'Toine but I'm going to come in and try to do my best job."
The Vikings don't have to designate players' status (probable, questionable, etc.) until after Friday's walkthrough.