What We Learned: Vikings vs. Giants Storylines

Posted Oct 20, 2013

The week of practice is over and the Vikings will travel to New Jersey on Sunday for their battle against the Giants on Monday Night Football. Here’s what we learned this week about the Vikings as they prepared to face the Giants…

Secondary shuffling
The Vikings are trying to make improvements in the secondary after allowing 13 touchdowns and a 66.7% completion rate in the seasons’ first five games. As they try to begin making those improvements this week, the Vikings will face a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback in Eli Manning and they’ll do so while shuffling their personnel because of injury.

Safety Harrison Smith was placed on the Reserve/Injured (Designated for Return) list and cornerback AJ Jefferson has all but been ruled out for Monday night’s game. That means Marcus Sherels could see an increase in reps on defense, and it also means newly-signed cornerback Jacob Lacey, who was with the club this offseason and in training camp, will likely be active on Monday night.

Matt Kalil is dealing with a back injury
Earlier this season Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil was slowed by a knee injury. He recovered from that and got back to playing at a high level. This week, though, another injury has impacted Kalil’s preparation. He was listed on this week’s injury report with a back injury, and actually missed practice on Friday and Saturday.

Kalil is listed as questionable for Monday night’s game, so there’s a reasonably good chance he’ll be able to play and protect Josh Freeman’s blindside. If he can’t play or if he becomes unavailable during the game, J’Marcus Webb would be the likely replacement.

Sendejo steps into starting lineup
As mentioned above, the Vikings will be without one of their starting safeties – Smith – for an indefinite period of time. Frazier said this week that Andrew Sendejo will step into the starting lineup this week, so it’ll be interesting to see how he plays and whether he can hold down a starting spot while Smith is on the mend.

Keep in mind, the injury to Smith and the subsequent promotion for Sendejo impacts more than the defense; it also impacts the special teams group. Sendejo is a core member of the special teams group and is a starter in several phases. While Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer says Sendejo insists he can still be a starter on all those phases while also playing defense, it’s inevitable that at some point Sendejo’s backup on special teams will be called upon to fill in. The same can be said for Marvin Mitchell, who will go back to being a starter on defense with Desmond Bishop going down last week.

Giants CB Corey Webster expected to return
As the Vikings deal with injuries and unavailability in their secondary, the Giants may be getting one of their better players in the secondary back from injury. Corey Webster, who played and started in the season’s first two games but missed the next four games with a groin injury, is listed as probable for the game and is expected to play.

Frazier preaches patience with Robinson
Josh Robinson has faced his fair share of criticism this season, but one person in his corner is a very important person to have in your corner – his head coach. While the public focuses on errors Robinson has made, Frazier has been insistent all season that Robinson is learning a new position and is displaying progress in games.

This may not be something fans want to read or hear about, but it is notable that Frazier feels this way and it is also notable that the way Frazier discusses this issue makes it clear that Frazier’s optimism with Robinson isn’t just blind faith. He speaks about Robinson’s transition to a new position with intentionality and an objective prism.

“When you’re playing in the secondary and having some ups and downs, you’ve just got to keep battling and we just keep encouraging him,” Frazier said. “He’s going to get better. He’s doing some things better than he was when we first put him at this position.

“It’s a challenging position playing inside against some very good receivers and it’s not always man and it’s not always zone. Just got to keep bringing him along and he’s going to get better and our defense will get better as he gets better. This is part of the maturation of having young guys playing in the secondary but he’s a good football player, just got to keep putting him out there and keep giving him opportunities to get better.”