The Vikings battled the AFC West-leading Oakland Raiders all the way to the wire on Sunday in a game that was entertaining from start to finish. It was also a game that probably left fans with opinions and questions. And that’s where the Monday Morning Mailbag enters the picture.
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Marcus Sherels and Visanthe Shiancoe were added to the Vikings injury report on Thursday, with Sherels (not injury-related) a non-participant and Shiancoe (hamstring) taking part on a limited basis.
Outside of those two additions, there were no changes to the Vikings injury report. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier did say after practice that LS Cullen Loeffler is making significant progress and that CB Antoine Winfield underwent surgery on his fractured clavicle.
There weren’t many changes to speak of for the Raiders, either. They also had an addition, though, as TE Kevin Boss (knee) was added but was also a full participant. CB Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list.
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Something happened to Raiders K Sebastian Janikowski earlier this season that hadn’t happened to him since 2001 – he missed a game. A hamstring injury has ailed the 12-year veteran in recent weeks and it caused him to miss the Raiders Week 7 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
But Janikowski was able to return after just one missed game and he’s expected to play this week against the Vikings at Mall of America Field. Janikowski is one of the NFL’s highest-profile kickers, and it’s for good reason. He was a standout at Florida State University, so much so that the Raiders used a 1st-round pick to select him in the 2000 NFL Draft. He’s known for a powerful leg, both on FG attempts and kickoffs.
“He has been special,” Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer said on Thursday. “I’ve faced him ten times the last five years being in the AFC West, and he just never ceases to amaze me in terms of his power, and just what he can generate in a small amount of area. On kickoffs he doesn’t have a long approach, even when he’s healthy. On his field goals he’s got a quick two-step approach that’s very difficult to block. But he gets the ball up in the air so quickly, it sounds like an explosion off his foot.”
Priefer also noted on Thursday that Janikowski is a crafty player who can accurately spot his kickoffs, in addition to booming them into and through the end zone. With a combination of power and accuracy on kickoffs, along with the hamstring injury that may or may not be inhibiting his power, Priefer explained to reporters that the Vikings will prepare two separate game plans against Janikowski.
“We have to have two game plans,” Priefer said. “We’ve got to have one [to] get ready for his ‘bloop’ kicks, I call them, or his liner-type kicks. And then we have to have one for his deep kicks. We go into this game having two different types of game plans for how healthy he is. He’s going to have ten days off (since his last game), and I know he didn’t practice yesterday, so he’ll be healthier than he’s been in a long while.”
Priefer will certainly watch Janikowski in warm-ups to see if the Raiders tip their hand, but he also knows that the veteran will be careful in how he warms up so as to not aggravate the injury. Either way, it sounds like the Vikings will be prepared for whatever Janikowski and the Raiders kickoff team throw at them.
“I’ll definitely watch him in warm-ups just to see how he’s hitting the ball,” Priefer said. “Being a hamstring with a kicker, obviously that’s a little more difficult, even indoors he’s got to be smart in terms of how he prepares and warms up. He might try to disguise it, I would if I were him, so we’ll have to deal with whatever he throws at us, and we’ll have a plan for both types of kicks.”
Tags: Mike Priefer
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