A.J. Jefferson release adds to woes on Vikings' already thin secondary
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Minnesota Vikings cornerback A.J. Jefferson has had the team's only interception since the Sept. 29 win in London.
After Jefferson was released Monday morning following an arrest for probable cause domestic assault, the Vikings are scrambling to find depth in their already thin secondary.
"We're going to have to consider [adding a cornerback] with Josh [Robinson] being down and our situation back there," coach Leslie Frazier said. "We'll definitely have to consider it. Even for practice purposes, you get thin enough where you can't really line up and have the kind of practices that you want to have."
Robinson fractured his sternum in a loss at the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 17 and is currently in a four-to-six week recovery. Frazier said injured reserve is likely off the table for Robinson, who could return for the final two or three games. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes started in his place in the tie at Lambeau Field on Sunday and went down with a concussion.
Cornerback Chris Cook has already missed multiple games from injuries while cornerback Marcus Sherels is limited by coaching staff on defense because of his punt return duties. The only other option on the active roster is cornerback Shaun Prater, an October addition.
The Vikings lost only cornerback Antoine Winfield in turnover from last season and failed to match the insanely high production he generated from the slot. With an aging pass rush, the Vikings have been exposed to the tune of a league-leading 24 touchdowns allowed through the air this season.
With an open roster spot, the Vikings have safety Harrison Smith returning to practice this week and would need an opening should he return to game action in two weeks.
"We'll talk about it. Everything is so sudden right now," Frazier said. "But we'll talk about it throughout the day and tomorrow as well and come to a conclusion, see what's best."
Second-year safety Robert Blanton played cornerback at Notre Dame and filled in on Sunday in the slot for Sherels. Blanton was flagged for two critical defensive holding penalties, but was otherwise serviceable in jumping up to the line of scrimmage after being seldom-used at safety this season.
With Smith returning, the Vikings could keep Blanton at cornerback to sacrifice one of their five safeties.
"[Blanton] was thrust into that role this week and I thought he held his own," Frazier said. "That holding penalty they called, man. But I thought he held his own, did a good job. So we'll see where we are depth-wise."