Notebook: Shoulder injury won't force Jasper Brinkley to sit out
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Jasper Brinkley admitted the AC sprain he suffered in his shoulder in Sunday's loss at Chicago left him in pain, but the Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker said the injury wouldn't keep him out of this weekend's game in Green Bay.
"I'm playing," said Brinkley, who was one of five Vikings players limited in practice on Wednesday. "It was just something that happens with the territory of playing linebacker. You're going downhill, making contact all the time. You're going to get those here and there. ... It's just something you have to fight through. Players play through pain each and every week."
Brinkley, who missed all of the 2011 season after having hip surgery, has started all 11 games this season and is third on the Vikings with 52 tackles.
Four players were listed on the injury report but did not miss any practice time.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph, who suffered a concussion on Sunday, did not practice but that was because of a strained shoulder he suffered on the same play that he took the shot to his head. Rudolph left the game after linebacker Lance Briggs flattened him on a third-down play in the red zone.
Asked about this concussion, Rudolph said: "Every concussion is different and this one was different than the one I had in the preseason. It's nice that the NFL has the (concussion) policies in place to make sure that we're doing everything the right way."
Rudolph expressed optimism that he would be able to return to practice in the next few days so he can play Sunday.
No need for a speech
The Vikings have lost three of their past four games to fall to 6-5 on the season and they will be at .500 for the first time since Week 2 if they lose Sunday at Lambeau Field.
This comes after a poor performance last weekend against another NFC North rival in Chicago.
But Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he doesn't feel his team needs to be rallied emotionally.
"I get the sense they know what's at stake at this point," he said. "I don't think there is any rallying that needs to be done when you're playing a divisional rival. We talked about that this morning. Those guys understand the implications of what has to get done. At this level, if you can't get excited about this opportunity, you're in the wrong business.
"I asked them this exact question. 'Do I have to give a motivational speech to get us ready to play this game?' And I asked them to give me some feedback and, to a man (they said), 'No. We'll be ready to play.' It's a matter of are we good enough to get it done on the road? I just don't sense that they'll be lackadaisical about their approach this week."
The Vikings certainly have plenty of motivation going into this game - at least the players who were on the roster last season do. The Vikings lost 45-7 to the Packers last November in Green Bay.
That team, of course, finished 3-13. This season has been much different but the Vikings have reached a critical stage. A victory Sunday would give them the same record as the Packers. That's why it's a bit surprising that the mood around the Vikings doesn't exactly seem upbeat.
"This game that we're playing this week, it puts us really up two games on Green Bay if we come off that field like we should, with a win," Frazier said. "You just can't lose sight of the big picture and you're right, the people around you can sometimes drain the energy and make you feel like things are worse than they are."
"We have a lot of young guys on our team who have never been in this environment, don't really understand the NFL and how it works. I'd be surprised if this doesn't go down until the last weekend of the season. We just have to keep playing and not lose sight of one game at a time and no game is bigger than this game."
A look back
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was asked if he could have done anything differently early in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's game in Chicago when he threw back-to-back incompletions to Jarius Wright and Michael Jenkins on third-and-2, then fourth-and-2 from the Chicago 8-yard line.
On third-and-2, Ponder said Sunday that the ball was intended to go to Rudolph, who got clubbed by Briggs. He settled for a jump ball to Wright and cornerback Kelvin Hayden made a play in coverage.
On fourth down, Ponder appeared to have Wright wide open on a drag route. But he was looking for a slant on the other side that linebacker Brian Urlacher covered up, then threw the ball out of bounds over Jenkins' head when he came back to the left.
"On third-and-2, I probably could have thrown the ball to ... I think Devin (Aromashodu) was open on that play," Ponder said Wednesday. "I could have gotten the ball to him and then the fourth-and-2, I don't know if anyone really was open on that one. Especially on the fourth-and-2, I have to be smart. I've got to put the ball in play and let someone make a play, not throw it out of bounds."
Frazier said that Brandon Fusco will remain the Vikings' starting right guard, despite the fact that veteran Geoff Schwartz got more snaps than Fusco at that position against the Bears (36-30). Fusco sat out three of the last four series. It was the first time this season Schwartz has received more snaps than Fusco. "It's more of what we're trying to get for Geoff from a play-time standpoint and part of it is making sure that we're fine long-term over the course of this season, but the biggest thing is his experience," Frazier said. "That definitely shows up and he gives us a little bit from a movement standpoint, but Brandon is doing a good job for us. We think we're getting the best of both worlds by having both of them rotate right now."
The Vikings lost running back Jordan Todman off their practice squad Tuesday when he was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Frazier admitted Todman was in a tough situation, being on a team that has Peterson and Toby Gerhart. "We liked Jordan," Frazier said. "We would have liked for things to work out here but we have a couple of good backs and he saw that as well. He and I talked and it's not like we're going to sit down number 28 or 32, so he did what's best for him. Wish him nothing but the best. He's a good player."