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Mike Zimmer to Xavier Rhodes: Remain a 'power forward'

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Xavier Rhodes is a big, physical corner, and Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer plans to keep him that way.

Rhodes was flagged for defensive pass interference during a play that included Lions receiver Calvin Johnson wrapping his right arm around the back of the cornerback's helmet.

Zimmer said the Vikings are "always trying to work" on playing without drawing penalties but made it clear, "Xavier [Rhodes] is going to be a big, physical corner and I'm not going to change the way he plays."

"I keep telling him every day, 'If you're a power forward, you've got to be a power forward; you don't want to be a point guard,' " Zimmer said Friday. "We'll keep working on trying to get him more technically sound, but we're not going to back off from being aggressive and physical."

With the Vikings having cleared Johnson (6-foot-5, 237) for the season, Minnesota (4-2) will visit Chicago (2-4) on Sunday and face another large receiver in Alshon Jeffery (6-3, 216 pounds).

Jeffery and Brandon Marshall boxed out Vikings defenders last season in Chicago, with Jeffery posting game highs of 11 catches and 135 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown, and Marshall posting seven receptions for 90 yards and two scores. Marshall departed this offseason, but the Vikings know the importance of limiting Jeffery, who had two catches for 34 yards in the 2014 finale.

"He's another very, very good receiver that we have to play," Zimmer said. "He's got great size, excellent hands and he'll body up and [Jay] Cutler has a lot of confidence in him throwing the football to him. We'll have to be on our Ps and Qs to handle it."

Other threats include running back Matt Forte (126 carries for 507 yards; 21 catches for 191 yards) and tight end Martellus Bennett (34 catches for 292 yards).

Disguising the defense:The Bears were well aware of the pressure that the Vikings placed on Lions QB Matthew Stafford last week in Detroit. Blitzes led to six of the Vikings 7.0 sacks by creating multiple free runners.

The Vikings brought Anthony Barr and Captain Munnerlyn that resulted in a sack shared by Barr and Everson Griffen. Munnerlyn was in the area again, when Tom Johnson arrived at the quarterback first.

"I like blitzing. I haven't gotten home yet, but I like blitzing," Munnerlyn said. "I think Stafford saw me come a couple of times and went back in because he knew I was coming. I'm sure my sack will come here or there but I'd rather have interceptions than a sack."

As the nickel back, Munnerlyn is tasked with defending the slot and an element of subterfuge for Zimmer's defense, which is filled with more disguises than a Halloween superstore.

"It's great when you can get the quarterback and their offensive line looking at different things and hit them with something else," Munnerlyn said. "We're doing a great job of showing different looks on defense and covering things up. We're not showing our hands. That's something, one thing we did early in the year was show our hand a little bit early, and quarterbacks and the offensive line picked some stuff up. This past game, I think we did a great job of showing different looks and trying to hold the coverages and hold blitzes."

Zimmer said Cutler is "doing a great job of seeing pressure, avoiding it, biding some time and throwing the ball vertically down the field."

"He's got a cannon for an arm and he can be very, very accurate, especially when he is throwing a deep ball," Zimmer said. "It is a challenge. We're going to have to make sure that we're doing a good job the way we rush, the way we pressure and in our zones as well."

Ins and outs: After sitting out Wednesday and Thursday to rejuvenate, Zimmer said Adrian Peterson "was full-go (Friday) and he'll be ready on Sunday."

Peterson's official game status is probable, along with WR Jarius Wright, Zach Line, Adam Thielen and Tom Johnson.

Linebacker Audie Cole, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, defensive end Justin Trattou and tight end Rhett Ellison have been ruled out.

Click here for the full injury reports for both teams.

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