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Updated: December 26th, 2012 4:24pm
Notebook: Antoine Winfield will tolerate pain in broken hand to play Sunday

Notebook: Antoine Winfield will tolerate pain in broken hand to play Sunday

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield was wearing a large wrap on his broken right hand after practice Wednesday but made it clear he will play in Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers.

A Vikings victory will put them in the playoffs.

"It's kind of hard to say right now," how it will impact him, Winfield said. "It's kind of hard to squeeze right now. My pain level, I'll tolerate that. That won't be an issue."

Winfield, who is in his 14th NFL season and is tied for the team-lead with three interceptions this year, said he suffered the fracture when a Houston player's knee hit his hand last Sunday early in the first quarter of the Vikings' 23-6 victory at Reliant Stadium.

Winfield, who starts at the left corner spot and moves inside in nickel situations, saw a lump on his hand when he came to the sideline and started to experience swelling.

He had a wrap put on the hand and underwent an X-ray at halftime that did not show a break. He continued to play, believing the injury was a bruise. On Monday, Winfield came into the Vikings facility for treatment and eventually went to get another test that showed the break.

"We don't expect it but it happens," Winfield said of the injury. "This is a rough sport, there are grown men running full speed at each other. Things like this happen."

Winfield was one of three Vikings who did not practice Wednesday but that comes as no surprise. He basically has been limited or not practiced at all in recent weeks in order to remain fresh. Winfield was listed with the broken hand and also a knee problem on the injury report.

Primary focus

Running back Adrian Peterson is 208 yards from breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record set in 1984. While Peterson is capable of that type of performance, coach Leslie Frazier said the Vikings' only focus Sunday will be on beating the Packers.

"I think the biggest consideration has to be winning this game," Frazier said. "Finding a way to get a win. If the record comes along with the win, that would be great, but not at the expense of winning the game. We've got to approach this, whatever it takes to get a win. Adrian wants it that way, too. He'd love to have the record, but he's the ultimate team guy. He wants to get a win. I hope he gets the record but even more so I want us to win this game."

Peterson, who sat out practice Wednesday because of an abdominal issue, is 102 yards away from becoming the seventh player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.

Testing it out

Defensive end Brian Robison was limited in practice Wednesday after missing last Sunday's game because of a sprained right shoulder.

"It felt all right," said Robison, who is second on the Vikings with 7.5 sacks. "I did some things with it, tested it out a little bit. Hopefully, do a little more day-by-day. ... It's not bad right now. I've got the range of motion. It's about trying to get the strength back and seeing how far I can push it."

Robison has never had a shoulder injury before and said the final decision on whether he returns to play against the Packers will be made by Frazier and the coaching staff.

"All I can do is get out here, show them what I can do with it and ultimately it's their decision," Robison said.

Robison admitted he was disappointed to have to sit out against the Texans in a game played in his home state. "It was hard," he said. "Especially going back home, having family there and everything like that. I got a little emotional but it is what it is."

Shaking off the rust

Cornerback Chris Cook played 39 snaps against the Texans in his first game back from a broken arm and figures to see his playing time increase this Sunday.

"I felt pretty good," Cook said. "It's always a challenge when you first come back, especially off an extended amount of time of being off like I was. Those first couple of plays it's tough to get your wind right."

Cook said he did not feel as if he had to shake off much rust.

"I was doing all the things I was supposed to do (during rehab)," he said. "I was still doing footwork every day, and I had two weeks to practice before I had to play. That helped a lot to knock some of the rust, if any, that I had on."

Cook did not play in the Vikings' loss to the Packers on Dec. 2 at Lambeau Field and knows the secondary will be in for a tough test against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Cook said that, in his opinion, Rodgers is the best quarterback he will face this season.

"He's Brett Favre like but I feel like he makes better decisions at times," Cook said. "He's crazy accurate. That's one of the things that stands out most about him, is his accuracy. He can put balls in places that other guys can't put them in. It's amazing to me."

Cook saw Rodgers pick him apart in the passing game twice during his rookie season in 2010 and he was benched in both Vikings' losses to Green Bay.

"I've been looking forward to this game since my rookie year," Cook said. "When I came back off of both my knee surgeries, they were kind of picking on me a little. I've been waiting on this one."

Sticking to the plan

The Vikings played a very solid game on defense against the Texans, giving up a season-low 187 yards, but things haven't always been that smooth this season.

The Vikings have gone through periods where they have struggled with fundamentals, including tackling. But Frazier said when that has happened, defensive coordinator Alan Williams and the rest of the staff have stuck to the plan.

That means not panicking and not making any drastic changes.

"I think for us just continuing to hit on the things that are necessary to play good defense and Alan and the defensive staff have done a great job of that," Frazier said. "Letting the players know that even though you may come into a meeting and say, 'We need to change this or ...'

"(Our reaction has been) "No, no, no. We need to play better. We need to tackle, we need to run to the ball, we need to create turnovers. We don't need to come in with a new defense, we don't need to come in with a new coverage. We need to play better.'

"Our guys understood that, they bought into it and we're doing a lot of the same things that we've done before. We're doing them better. That's kind of the way it needs to happen this time of year. It's hard to reinvent yourself this time of the year. You've got to keep working to improve. To our coaches and players credit, we're making the necessary improvements at the right time of the year."

Walsh appreciative

Ryan Longwell had remained quiet this season after being released by the Vikings and replaced by rookie kicker Blair Walsh last spring.

But Longwell ended that silence by taking to Twitter on Sunday after Walsh made his NFL record ninth field goal of 50 yards or longer this season.

Longwell's tweets read: "I've purposely not commented on any football stuff this entire year so let me make my first one now. I've seen many great seasons go unrewarded by not getting voted to Pro Bowl. But if @BlairWalsh3 does not get voted in this year it will prove system is broke! What more can the guy do?? Accuracy, 9-9 50+ yarders, Kickoff touchbacks and a game winner in his first career game!!"

Walsh said Wednesday that Longwell's words meant a lot to him.

"That's one of the most humbling things ever said about me," Walsh said. "I'm really appreciative of what he said and I know my response back was 100 percent truthful. Guys like him set the bar for kickers to come into the league and they hold us to a higher standard. We try to emulate careers like his."

Quick hits

Linebacker Chad Greenway was presented with the Korey Stringer "Good Guy Award," which is voted on by members of the Twin Cities media that cover the Vikings. The honor goes to the player who best exemplifies the effort and positive attitude that Stringer had in dealing with the media. Stringer passed way on Aug. 1, 2001, a day after suffering heat stroke on the field in Mankato during training camp.

Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, as expected, did not practice on Wednesday because of illness. He also is battling a shoulder issue that has been bothering him for several weeks. Punter Chris Kluwe (left knee), right tackle Phil Loadholt (knee) and cornerback Marcus Sherels (quadriceps) were listed on the Vikings' injury report but did not miss any practice time.

The Packers have ruled out safety Charles Woodson for Sunday's game. Woodson will miss his ninth game because of broken collarbone. Kicker Mason Crosby (illness), guard Josh Sitton (concussion) and running back James Starks (knee) did not practice Wednesday for the Packers. Six players were limited for Green Bay, including wide receiver Randall Cobb (knee and ankle); guard Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee); cornerback Davon House (shoulder and hip); defensive ends C.J. Wilson (knee) and Jerel Worthy (hamstring); and center Jeff Saturday (neck and shoulder).

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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