Notebook: Still short on corners, Vikings preparing for Marshall, Dolphins
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The last time the Minnesota Vikings saw Brandon Marshall, he was racking up 145 combined yards on 10 receptions and two running plays for the Denver Broncos on Dec. 30, 2007.
The Vikings lost that game 22-19, and Marshall -- a physical size-speed threat who only then was coming into his own in his second season -- left a big impression.
"He made a bunch of plays against us in the final game of the season," linebacker Ben Leber said on Wednesday. "We know what kind of a load he is and what kind of emphasis he's going to demand."
Traded in April for a second-round pick to the Miami Dolphins, who visit the Vikings at the Metrodome on Sunday, Marshall no longer is the focal point in an offense that starts with running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. He had eight catches for 53 yards and none longer than 13 yards in his regular-season Dolphins debut on Sunday at Buffalo.
But at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Marshall poses a major matchup challenge -- particularly in the red zone -- against a Vikings team that still is operating with only three healthy cornerbacks. Antoine Winfield (5-9, 180), Asher Allen (5-9, 194) and Lito Sheppard (5-10, 194) each give up at least 6 inches to the Dolphins' No. 1 receiver.
"Anytime you can match size with size, I don't think it hurts you," Vikings coach Brad Childress said.
Allen started opposite Winfield in Thursday's opener at New Orleans, with Sheppard bumping Winfield inside in nickel situations, but that could change from week to week based on matchups.
"Truthfully, I'd like to have more corners available, so that's the effort those guys are making to try to get back," Childress said. "They have to be able to show us what their role in the game plan will be."
Vikings quarterback Brett Favre returned to Mississippi for his grandchild's christening after Thursday's loss to the Saints.
According to Favre, neither that visit nor the defeat made him rethink his decision to play a 20th NFL season.
"It was an hour and 40-minute drive back home -- it would have been a lot easier for those three days and for that ride back, had we won," Favre said. "But as I said in my first press conference back, I'm here, I'm committed, win or lose, I'll do everything I can. It just would have been a little bit sweeter had we won that football game. But I wasn't having second thoughts, no."
More signs of solidarity?
Williams -- who became the Dolphins' union rep when Greg Camarillo was traded to the Vikings for cornerback Benny Sapp -- on Aug. 25, said no decision has been made on whether players again will raise their index fingers as a show of unity before kickoff on Sunday at the Metrodome.
The Vikings and Saints first made the gesture before Thursday's nationally televised opener in New Orleans. It was repeated in several venues on Sunday; fans in Houston booed the Texans and Colts.
"I think it's a wonderful thing we're doing, but unfortunately, I don't think it's being covered correctly," said Williams, who indicated he's optimistic about a labor deal being reached in time to save the 2011 season.
"The idea behind it is really about solidarity and unity, and it's not only the players. Ideally, we'd have people in the stands doing it, people that work in the stadium, because if there is a lockout, which would be initiated by the owners, it's not only going to be us that suffer. It's going to be the people that work for the stadium, it's going to be the fans, it's going to be the hotels, it's going to be the economy of these cities. So, it's not just about us. It's about pushing to have some kind of an agreement reached."
• Williams said "it really hurt a lot of us" when Camarillo was traded. "He's money," Williams said of Camarillo, who's expected to take a bigger role against his old team after playing only seven snaps on Thursday. "It seems like every time we need a big play, we need a first down, the ball's in the air and it's going to him -- you pretty much know it's a catch. He's a hard worker, he's a very intelligent guy and he's just a great teammate."
• Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said Sapp is playing the nickel, has "done a nice job since he's come over here, and we're really happy to have him. ... He's an aggressive player that's got a little swagger to him, and I like the way he's fit here."
• Childress acknowledged he's addressed his team about the importance of winning at home. "We know that we were 9-0" last season, Childress said. "You want to be able to hold serve at home -- I don't think that there's question about that -- and then be able to get the wins that you're able to on the road. I could tell you this: 12 of 16 homes teams won in Week 1, four road teams had a four-point average margin of victory. It makes a difference and you need to hold home serve."