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Updated: December 14th, 2012 11:39am
Notebook: Antoine Winfield says not practicing has kept him fresh

Notebook: Antoine Winfield says not practicing has kept him fresh

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Cornerback Antoine Winfield did not participate in Friday's practice for the Minnesota Vikings, and afterward coach Leslie Frazier said the veteran's knee was "still little bit sore."

The Vikings listed Winfield as questionable on their injury report. That means there is a 50 percent chance he will play on Sunday at St. Louis.

So is Winfield concerned he might miss a game for the first time this season?

Absolutely not.

Winfield was smiling Friday as he explained that he hasn't practiced for the past three or four weeks. The reality is the Vikings long ago devised a plan to get Winfield rest late in the season. That plan revolved around taking care of a guy who is in his 14th season.

Certainly Winfield has aches and pains - every player has those by December -- but clearly he isn't worried about his knee. "It's just rest," Winfield said when asked how his knee felt. "Getting me ready to go so I can run around all 60, 70 plays or however many we have."

Winfield, who is tied with safety Harrison Smith for the team lead with three interceptions and is third on the Vikings with 100 tackles, has played in all 13 games this season. That comes a year after he was limited to five games because of injury.

"It's lovely, it's lovely," Winfield said of getting time off from practice. "I couldn't have asked for anything more. Everything feels good. ... I don't think I've felt this good in my entire career. I know my assignments. Haven't busted coverage, know my technique and what I'm supposed to do. So it's working."

Winfield said after Alan Williams was named the Vikings' defensive coordinator this offseason, the two began talking about the best plan to get Winfield additional rest and keep him fresh.

"(Williams) said, 'We're going to try to do something during the season where we keep you fresh for Sunday,'" Winfield said. "Like the last month, this is the best I've felt for my entire career."

Winfield plays the left corner in the Vikings' base defense and moves inside when a fifth defensive back is added to the mix. He said it hasn't been an issue that all of his reps of late have been mental.

"Some people need (to practice), some people don't," Winfield said. "I don't want to say I don't need it. There's some looks that I need to see that I will get when I see it on film and I'll go talk to (defensive backs coach) Joe Woods. But I don't need to take every rep. The grind during the week is what usually wears you down. But me going into Sundays, I'm 100 percent ready to go."

Winfield, 35, has been with the Vikings for nine seasons and will be entering the final season of his contract in 2013. He said he would "love" to return to the Vikings to play out his contract.

And if that doesn't happen?

"I will definitely be playing football next year," he said.

Peterson probable

Adrian Peterson was limited in practice Friday because of an abdominal issue after being held out on Thursday.

However, the running back was listed as probable for Sunday's game and should start against the Rams.

Peterson was one of 10 players on the injury report who were listed as probable.

The list includes cornerback A.J. Jefferson (concussion); linebacker Jasper Brinkley (shoulder); left guard Charlie Johnson (ankle); right tackle Phil Loadholt (knee); tight end Kyle Rudolph (shoulder); defensive end Jared Allen (shoulder); safety Robert Blanton (neck); defensive tackle Letroy Guion (shin); and punter Chris Kluwe (left knee and right groin).

No need for rest

As good as Peterson has been this season, he still is removed at times on third-down passing situations in favor of Toby Gerhart.

Asked if this makes him unhappy, Peterson said: "I am at times because I'm a competitor. I want to be out there. You never know, there might be a check down I can take to the house or a key block that I want to go in and get. I do my job regardless."

Peterson said he doesn't think anyone questions his blocking skills.

"I don't think so," he said. "If you've been watching, I've been in there on third down. On several occasions I've leveled guys and gave Christian (Ponder) time to throw the ball. So, I don't think that's what it is."

Fine free

Allen and end Everson Griffen were called for unnecessary roughness against Chicago. The NFL apparently decided that was sufficient punishment.

Neither was fined for the plays on which they drew 15-yard penalties, a league spokesman said.

Bears cornerback Charles Tillman was fined $7,875 for his unnecessary roughness penalty.

Tom Pelissero contributed.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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