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Updated: August 25th, 2010 4:21pm
Notebook: Absences of Jared Allen, Jimmy Kennedy leave d-line short

Notebook: Absences of Jared Allen, Jimmy Kennedy leave d-line short

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Nose tackle Pat Williams is scheduled to make his preseason debut on Saturday against Seattle, but the statuses of two other Minnesota Vikings defensive linemen apparently are up in the air.

Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy missed a second straight practice on Wednesday, All-Pro end Jared Allen also was missing, and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier indicated both players are nicked up.

Kennedy's injury seems to be the more pressing issue, since it apparently happened in Sunday's loss at San Francisco.

"I don't know if we'll have him for this (Saturday) ballgame or not," Frazier said. "But he's doing the things he has to do to get back on the field again. Did well when he was in there against San Francisco, but this is the time of year where you get guys that get banged up."

Allen was on the field during the portion of practice reporters were allowed to watch on Tuesday but wasn't seen on Wednesday.

Said Frazier, "I know our trainers are working with (Allen) on something that he wasn't able to be at practice for."

Teams aren't required to reveal anything about the nature of injuries during the preseason.

Williams, 37, has dressed but not played a snap in the first two preseason games. He's coming off elbow surgery and coaches have limited his workload since the start of training camp.

"This is the game that we've targeted to have him ready to get some reps," Frazier said. "He's anxious to get out there and perform."

Another key defender who missed practice on Tuesday, linebacker Chad Greenway, was back on Wednesday.

Linebacker Kenny Onatolu and receiver Ray Small were absent, while receiver Percy Harvin (migraines) returned but appeared to be a limited participant.

No Harvin on returns?

Harvin's tenuous health status has his availability in the return game unclear.

"I know you want him back there," special teams coordinator Brian Murphy said. "But his health has got to allow it, and right now it's an unpredictable situation, and we'll make plans accordingly."

Harvin was highly productive on kick returns as a rookie, averaging 27.5 yards with two touchdowns, and also was getting reps on punt returns before his extended absence began early in training camp.

Darius Reynaud is the clear favorite for the punt-return role and also could factor on kick returns, along with Albert Young, if Harvin can handle the job. Asher Allen and Marcus Sherels also have gotten turns on punt returns, but Allen has been shaky and Sherels is a long shot to make the team.

"It's going to have to be a week-to-week decision," Murphy said. "Obviously, his situation isn't one that you can predict. That's the reason why we're trying to rep as many people as we can -- to have alternatives."

Secondary questions

Rookie cornerback Chris Cook still has a shot at starting.

Frazier confirmed the Vikings' top draft pick has worked more at right cornerback in practice this week -- he'd previously been almost exclusively on the left side -- and will get his chance to challenge Lito Sheppard and Asher Allen for the job on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the strong safety competition between Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford is "nip and tuck," Frazier said. Both players likely will get time with the starters again on Saturday.

"Ty'll get some reps this week, Husain (Abdullah) will get some reps there, Jamarca will as well, and hopefully, after this ballgame, we'll come to a conclusion," Frazier said.

No more drama

Quarterback Brett Favre echoed what receiver Javon Walker said a day earlier: there's no lingering issue between the former Green Bay Packers teammates.

"There was never any hatchet to bury," said Favre, who publicly criticized Walker for complaining about his contract in 2005 -- comments Walker later said made it difficult to live in Wisconsin.

"Javon and I are good friends, and we stayed in contact long after he left. That makes for good TV stuff. He and I are fine, and I think he can help us. I want him to have a great year -- he deserves it. He's a great guy, and what happened in the past is long over."

Quick hits

• MLB E.J. Henderson, who had seven tackles in two series on Sunday, is expected to play a full half and maybe more with the rest of the starters to give coaches a final evaluation of whether his surgically repaired leg can handle extended action. "We all were pleased with the way he performed," Frazier said. "I didn't see much of a hitch at all. It really gives you hope that he's beyond that injury, possibly."

• Frazier said CB Cedric Griffin, who is coming off knee reconstruction surgery, continues to progress but isn't necessarily close to coming off the active/physically unable to perform list. "He's still in the rehab stage, and he hasn't done any drills with our football team," Frazier said. "Everything's on the side. So, it's hard to project what it's going be like when he puts the pads on and has to cover wide receivers."

• Continuing to depart from the original plan, Ryan Longwell will handle all place-kicks and Rhys Lloyd all kickoffs on Saturday, Murphy said. Lloyd hasn't attempted a field goal yet in the preseason.

• The Vikings will hold a rare practice at the Metrodome on Thursday in preparation for Saturday's home preseason opener. It'll be their first work on the newly installed playing surface.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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