Antoine Winfield uncertain, but should play if swelling subsides
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- One day after pain in his broken hand forced Antoine Winfield to the sideline, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier wasn't saying much about the veteran cornerback's chances for playing in Saturday's wild-card playoff rematch at Green Bay.
"We don't know what's going to happen with Antoine," Frazier said on Monday. "We'll see how he does throughout the week. He was in quite a bit of pain (Sunday) so we'll have to see how he does during the week and make a decision maybe later on."
Winfield finished the Vikings' game on Dec. 23 at Houston despite breaking a bone in his right hand. He attempted to play in Sunday's win over the Packers with a small pad on the hand but lasted only 18 snaps, departing in the second quarter.
An NFL source said Winfield aggravated the injury when a lineman hit the hand, causing it to swell up. If the swelling subsides as expected, the source said, Winfield should be able to play in some capacity on Saturday with a larger soft cast protecting the injury.
That would be good news for the Vikings secondary that seemed out of sorts after Winfield left on Sunday. A.J. Jefferson took over opposite Chris Cook in the base defense, with Marcus Sherels filling Winfield's usual slot role in the nickel package.
Aaron Rodgers finished with 365 yards and four touchdowns on 28-of-40 passing, including a 73-yard strike to Jordy Nelson against Sherels, who got the nod over rookie Josh Robinson because of his experience in the slot.
"We've worked Josh very limited reps inside," Frazier said. "But there are some things we'll have to look at for this ballgame that we may do a little bit different."
Winfield, 35, played only five games last season because of injuries, triggering a de-escalator in his contract that reduced his 2012 salary from $7 million to $3 million. But he hadn't missed any substantial time in his 14th NFL season before Sunday.
He earned back $2.5 million of a possible $3 million in incentives by playing 90.6% of the regular-season snaps this season, also crossing a play-time threshold that locked in his non-guaranteed 2013 salary of $7.25 million.
Winfield's status appears to be the only one up in the air for Saturday, although Frazier said other players still are coming in for evaluation.
"He actually said (Monday) that he felt better than he felt a week ago Monday after the Texans game," Frazier said. "So, that's encouraging."
Safety Harrison Smith (shoulder) may be limited in practice on Tuesday, Frazier said, but that goes for a number of players on the short week.