Notebook: Vikings quickly turn their attention to upcoming opponent
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Minnesota Vikings players were given Monday off after their 21-14 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, but the coaching staff did not have the luxury of enjoying the win.
Hours after the game, the coaching staff had turned its attention to preparing for Thursday night's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Metrodome.
Usually game-plan preparations for the upcoming opponent can take place on Monday and Tuesday, with installation done on Wednesday and Thursday and a final tune-up practice on Friday. That's followed by a walk-through session on Saturday.
That luxury does not exist this week for the Vikings or Buccaneers.
Ordinarily players are off on Tuesday, but that won't be the case this week. The Vikings will return to work Tuesday, go through the installation of the game plan and have a practice. That will be really the only full day they get to prepare.
"You have to combine all the normal things you would have done on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday into one day -- in a condensed fashion, but you've got to get all those things covered in one day," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "So you have really be smart in your preparation of how you're going to get that done without overtaxing them mentally, but yet getting them where they need to be physically to go out and play a football game on a Thursday.
"For some guys, Thursday is their day to really get back to practice, because Wednesday is a day where they're just beginning to have their bodies awaken in some ways. So it's definitely a different mindset. It's a different approach, and you have to adjust, but all the teams that are playing on Thursday night are doing the same thing."
Because the Vikings and Buccaneers play on Thursday, they were required to release injury reports on Monday. The first injury report of the week doesn't come out until Wednesday, if a team plays on Sunday.
The Vikings listed a dozen players on their report and included whether they would have practiced on Monday, if the players had been required to be on the field. Given the physical nature of the NFL and the quick turnaround required for teams playing on a Thursday, Frazier was asked if having only three days off puts players at greater risk for injury.
"Touchy area, there, my friend," he said. "That's a bigger call than Coach Frazier standing here at the podium. We do what we're told to do. We have got a game on Thursday night, we've got to get prepared to go play that game. If they tell us it's Wednesday, if it's Friday, if it's Tuesday, we've got to get ready to go. We have been through a Tuesday game, as we all recall."
That came late in the 2010 season when Frazier was serving as the Vikings' interim coach and the team had its Sunday night game in Philadelphia postponed because of an expected snowstorm. The Vikings and Eagles did not play until Tuesday.
In that case, the Vikings ended up having to stay two additional nights in Philadelphia. This time around, they are the home team and don't have to travel.
That should be an advantage.
"I'd like to think so," Frazier said. "We'll look at the numbers at the end of the year, when they look at the Thursday night schedules and take a look at home teams and away teams and what their record was. That will probably be the truer answer to that question, but I would much rather be playing at home this Thursday than having to get on a flight on Wednesday to travel to the opposing team. I'm grateful that we're playing at home."
On second thought
Frazier acknowledged Monday that the Vikings probably made a mistake in how they handled a possession late in the first half Sunday.
Minnesota, holding a 14-7 lead, took over with 50 seconds left at its own 13 and gained 7 yards in two plays before calling a timeout with 14 seconds to go.
On third-and-2 from their own 21, the Vikings called for a pass play instead of having quarterback Christian Ponder take a knee. The Cardinals brought pressure and Ponder made an ill-advised pass as his arm was being hit that was intercepted by Arizona linebacker Sam Acho.
The Vikings got lucky when Cardinals kicker Jay Feely missed a 47-yard field-goal attempt wide right. Nonetheless, it made little sense why the Vikings didn't either take a down-the-field shot or have Ponder take a knee to run out the clock.
"Probably looking back at it, it probably wasn't the wisest thing to do," Frazier said of the sequence. "We probably could have went in at the half and taken that 14-7 lead and said, 'Hey, let's just start the second half.' We could do something different in that situation rather than put (Ponder) in a situation where he has to try and make a play. If I had it to do over again, I'd probably do something different."
Asked if the second down play, which ended up being a 6-yard pass to Percy Harvin, was intended to be a deep shot, Frazier that said wasn't the case.
"That (pass to Harvin) was the call," Frazier said. "(Ponder) threw the ball where it should have gone.
Tight end John Carlson is expected to miss Thursday's game because of concussion-like symptoms that appeared to result from an illegal blindside block thrown on him by the Cardinals' Rashad Johnson. Interestingly, that play did not occur while Carlson was on offense but rather on the punt coverage unit.
"We'll have to take him through the protocol over the next few days and in a short week, we don't expect him to probably (play on Thursday)," Frazier said.
This continues what has been a very trying season for Carlson.
Carlson, 28, signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Vikings in March that included $9.1 million in guarantees. They hoped he would provide a 1-2 tight end threat along with Kyle Rudolph after missing last season in Seattle because of a shoulder injury.
But Carlson sprained a knee the first week of camp, missed the entire preseason and has struggled to get regular work. He entered Sunday's game with only three catches for 8 yards and wasn't targeted before departing in the second half.
This isn't Carlson's first concussion. He was hospitalized overnight in Chicago in January 2011 after suffering a concussion in the Seahawks' playoff loss to the Bears. That reportedly was the third documented concussion of his career, dating to his days at Notre Dame.
Four added to injury report
While the Vikings did not practice, it was projected that Kalil would have been held out of the session and Smith would have been limited.
Safety Mistral Raymond (ankle) would have been limited.
There also were five players who were on the report but would have participated in all of practice. That included safety Robert Blanton (hamstring), linebacker Marvin Mitchell (calf), quarterback Christian Ponder (knee), running back Matt Asiata (knee) and Evans.
Wide receiver Jerome Simpson, who has been listed with a lower back issue that caused weakness and numbness in his leg, was taken off the injury report.
Peterson rushed for a season-high 153 yards on 23 carries with a touchdown Sunday, despite having been limited last week in practice by a sprained left ankle. Frazier said Peterson was "a little sore" on Monday but not as sore as he was the previous week after the Vikings' loss at Washington.
The Buccaneers' report included linebacker Andrew Hayward (ankle), wide receiver Vincent Jackson (calf), cornerback Brandon McDonald (ankle), guard Carl Nicks (foot) and center Jeremy Zuttah (quadriceps).
Where was Simpson?
Simpson, who did not play on Oct. 14 at Washington, saw regular duty on Sunday but ended up with only one catch for 8 yards and was the targeted receiver on only that one pass, according to the official stats. Simpson also drew a 29-yard pass interference penalty on Cardinals cornerback William Gay in the first quarter and one play later Peterson scored on a 13-yard run.
So where was the guy who is considered the Vikings' vertical threat?
"We did have some other plays where we looked for him, we just didn't have an opportunity to connect," Frazier said. "That (pass interference) was a big play, it helped set up a touchdown for us and that's what Jerome can do.
"His vertical threat is something we've lacked a little bit. So to have that, it's a great option for our offense and we want to be able to utilize his strengths in the passing game. We looked for him at other times, it just didn't work out."
Tom Pelissero contributed