The Vikings last Sunday had Pro Bowl CB Antoine Winfield back in the lineup after he missed 6 games because of a foot injury he suffered in Week 6 against the Baltimore Ravens. Winfield made an immediate impact for the Vikings by leading the team in tackles with 9 and also forcing a fumble late in the 2nd quarter that resulted in a FG as time expired in the 1st half.
It’s that type of play-making ability and impact that the Vikings were missing for a large stretch of the season. The Vikings went 4-2 in Winfield’s absence, but the defense clearly had a different edge to it with Winfield on the field last Sunday.
While the Vikings obviously would’ve been better off with Winfield in the lineup over the last 6 weeks, the team will now benefit not only from his return but also from how fresh he’ll be for the most important part of the season – the home stretch and the playoffs.
Everyone else on the team and on opposing teams has gone through a rigorous season and 13 games, but Winfield will play just his 8th game this Sunday night and he says because of his time away with the injury it feels as if the season is just starting.
“My body feels good,” Winfield said. “I’m ready to go. It feels like the season just started for me. This is the fourteenth game and a lot of guys are banged up. Some of them feel like they’ve hit the wall. But for me it’s a fresh start.”
Asked if this was the freshest he’s been at this point in a season during his career, Winfield was clear.
“Without a doubt this is the freshest I’ve been in my career and you will see that,” Winfield said with conviction. “You’ll see me every Sunday flying around making plays.”
Flying around and making plays is exactly what Winfield did last week against Cincinnati. He was in usual form, coming up from nowhere to break up screen passes and collapsing on the line of scrimmage from the edge to put an abrupt end to running plays.
While it was rejuvenating for the Vikings and Vikings fans to see Winfield back at work last Sunday, that type of effort is what Winfield expects from himself.
“I want to be the difference-maker,” the Pro Bowl CB said. “I want to go out there each week and make a play that changes the game. My teammates count on me to do that and I expect that of myself.”
Tags: Antoine Winfield
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