Told before warmups he'd start, Shaun Prater nabs first career INT
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MINNEAPOLIS - Shaun Prater prepared for his moment, even if he didn't know it was about to happen.
Against the team that cut him in October, the Minnesota Vikings cornerback was thrust into the starting lineup when cornerback Chris Cook alerted him before warmups of Sunday's win over the Philadelphia Eagles that he couldn't play.
In his first career start, Prater nabbed his first career interception off Eagles quarterback Nick Foles in the third quarter.
"I was ready for that. New guy. Cut twice. I was ready," Prater said. "If you had a camera on me this entire week, I spent so much time watching film, stretching, watching more film and just asking the coaches about everything, being a little gnat."
Prater countered his own insect comparison with one better fitting for a fifth-round draft pick in 2012 that spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve and was cut twice this season - once by the team that drafted him in the Cincinnati Bengals and once by the Eagles in October.
"It's like a pit bull locked in a cage and he's waiting and waiting and he's finally let out and he's finally give that ball," Prater said. "I was given that ball today."
Foles threw for 428 yards, but had his second interception of the season when he tossed up a prayer to receiver Desean Jackson. Prater, who appeared in just one game with the Eagles on special teams, was waiting.
The second-year cornerback said his six or so weeks on the Eagles provided inside information on the tendencies and traits of their receivers.
"Just basically getting a feel for what type of guys they are," Prater said. "Doing one-on-ones with them every single week, it just clicked [on Sunday]."
Cook was a late addition to the Vikings injury report on Friday with a knee injury and was questionable. Apparently he was a game-time decision and alerted Prater on Sunday.
"I didn't know until I was ready to go warmup," Prater said. "Cook said his knee wasn't ready to go and Prater had to start."
Safety Harrison Smith returned to the playing field for the first time since his Oct. 13 foot injury. He was activated off injured reserve on Saturday.
Smith didn't start, but consistently rotated in with safeties Andrew Sendejo and Jamarca Sanford.
"It felt good. Obviously, the first half I felt real rusty," Smith said. "Just winded. So many guys were laughing at me when I came off the field. Once I got my second wind, I calmed down. Got the excitement out."
Smith finished tied with the team-high with eight tackles on limited reps.