Judging by their final injury report of the week, the Vikings appear poised to face the Saints on Thursday night very shorthanded in the defensive backfield.
The Vikings have ruled out rookie CB Chris Cook, who was pushing to start in place of the injured Cedric Griffin before injuring his right knee. Brad Childress addressed the cornerback situation on Tuesday, telling reporters he was toying with the idea that Griffin, who returned to practice this week after reconstructive knee surgery eight months ago, could play. Griffin is officially listed as questionable.
Most are expecting Griffin won’t play, which would leave the Vikings with three healthy cornerbacks — Antoine Winfield, Lito Sheppard and Asher Allen — to face Drew Brees and the Saints’ multi-receiver sets.
Husain Abdullah, who is a candidate to start at strong safety, appears to be an option in nickel packages, as is practice-squad cornerback Marcus Sherels.
Expecting this storyline to be a major factor, I checked in with NFL Network analyst Solomon Wilcots. He agreed.
“What people are underestimating about the Saints is they have eight weapons they can throw at you,” Wilcots said. “They had seven different receivers with more than 35 receptions last season, and they can take over ballgames. It taxes your secondary, in terms of depth. If your third or fourth cornerback is a weak link, the Saints will find them. If your safeties can’t cover, they’ll be exposed.
“We’ve seen Drew Brees do it before, and I think the Vikings are facing that this week.”
This will be a game within the game worth watching.