Notebook: Vikings urging Brandon Fusco to play with more confidence
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings don't appear overly concerned yet about right guard Brandon Fusco's uneven play.
In fact, their message to him of late has been to not be so hard on himself as he experiences growing pains in his first season as an NFL starter.
"That's something we're actually trying to coach out of him," offensive line coach Jeff Davidson said this week. "We would like to see him play the game with more confidence, and that will come with time. He's got to be able to be patient with himself."
A sixth-round draft pick (172nd overall) in 2011, Fusco quickly built a reputation for his aggressive attitude and physical style. But he was raw coming out of Division II Slippery Rock and only saw action in three games as a rookie, playing 25 snaps on offense.
He won the starting job out of training camp this year in part because his competition, Geoff Schwartz, underwent sports hernia surgery and missed the entire preseason.
"I'm not going to sit here and say I'm playing well," Fusco said on Friday. "I'm playing all right. I think I can play a lot better. I have to keep getting in the film room and keep getting better."
Asked specifically about the confidence issue, Fusco acknowledged that "it feels like I'm guessing on a lot of plays."
That has manifested itself in part with missed blocks and poor finishes on linebackers when Fusco is asked to climb to the second level.
"It's like maybe I overpursued or just get myself out of place sometimes, out of position," Fusco said. "That goes back to repetitions in practice and watching more film and just learning off these veterans, too, how they work and whatnot."
One of Fusco's two appearances on offense last season came at Washington, where the Vikings will travel on Sunday.
The dozen snaps he played in place of injured right guard Anthony Herrera that day were enough for Fusco to pick up his first NFL personal foul to go with two he had in the preseason.
"I think maybe sometimes I'm too aggressive when I'm out there," Fusco said. "I get too excited and whatnot and I'm playing out of my element."
Still only 22 years old, Fusco said during camp he knew he needed to become a smarter player. But Davidson said he never tries to coach anyone to be less aggressive -- especially a 6-foot-4, 306-pound mauler whose physicality is one of his greatest strengths.
"We've got to be patient with him and allow him to come along," Davidson said, "and that is part of the offensive line demeanor, too, is you've got to find a way to play the game consistently and with confidence. Each day, you're working on trying to be able to do that."
Halfback Adrian Peterson didn't exactly open it up in the portions of practice available to reporters as he worked his way back from a mild left ankle sprain.
But he was a full participant on Friday and was listed as probable (virtual certainty of playing) on the injury report.
"Adrian was much better," coach Leslie Frazier said. "He finished. He's improved every day, so we feel good about where he is."
Peterson didn't practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday, when he said there was no doubt in his mind he'd play against the Redskins.
Asked if Peterson must show anything to prove he's back to 100%, Frazier said, "I don't think so. He moved well. He feels very comfortable, did good in and out of his cuts. I think he's ready to go."
Vikings receiver Percy Harvin (hamstring) and quarterback Christian Ponder (knee) also were full participants in Friday's practice and listed as probable, along with cornerback Antoine Winfield (knee), left guard Charlie Johnson (low back) and safety Andrew Sendejo (ankle).
Receiver Jerome Simpson (foot/low back) was limited again and listed as questionable (50% chance of playing). Linebacker Marvin Mitchell (calf) was listed as doubtful (25% chance of playing) and safety Mistral Raymond (ankle) was ruled out for a third consecutive week.
Raymond is "getting closer," Frazier said. "This was his first day having a chance to do some running so that was encouraging. He's still a few weeks away, but at least we've got a start now. He's begun to run. So, that was a good sign."
Griffin, Garcon questionable
The Redskins ruled out safety Brandon Meriweather (knee) and end Doug Worthington (calf) and listed three players as questionable -- including quarterback Robert Griffin III, who nonetheless is expected to play one week after suffering a concussion.
"That's what we have doctors for. Doctors make those decisions, we don't," Griffin told the Redskins' website. "That's why we run all these tests. But why would you not let somebody play if he's felt good right at the end of the game (and) every day until now?
"If he has these tests after practice today and all of sudden he's not feeling good or something's wrong, obviously we're not going to take the chance."
Also questionable for the Redskins are backup cornerback Cedric Griffin (hamstring) and receiver Pierre Garcon, whose foot injury is "lingering for sure," coach Mike Shanahan said, per CSNWashington.com.
"It was enough where he didn't take many reps (Friday)," Shanahan added. "It's painful and that's why we sat him out. It's tender and it's still sore. It's a pain issue, but it's sore enough where he can't push off all the time."
• Tennessee S Michael Griffin was fined $21,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Vikings WR Michael Jenkins in last week's game, an NFL spokesman said. Titans DT Sen'Derrick Marks was fined $7,875 for a late hit on QB Christian Ponder.
• Vikings CB Chris Cook and DE Everson Griffen were not fined for their respective hits that drew 15-yard penalties. S Harrison Smith, who was disqualified for making contact with an official, also wasn't fined.