He’s down to his fourth left cornerback and third free safety. His left corner was out of work a month ago. His free safety is a raw sixth-round draft pick. And his nickelback choices are another rookie or a second-year guy who made the team as a punt returner.
But it’s the two starting defensive backs that have stayed healthy and out of legal trouble — right cornerback Cedric Griffin and strong safety Jamarca Sanford — that might be most disappointing.
Frazier said Sanford needs to tackle much better than he did during Sunday’s 35-32 loss to the Broncos. As for Griffin, well, Frazier didn’t sugarcoat the situation when asked if Griffin “is missing something” in his return from having torn the anterior cruciate ligament in each knee the previous two seasons.
“Yeah, I think so,” Frazier said. “He’s not the Cedric we saw before the second ACL injury and he’s tried to battle through some things but his confidence level has not been where it needs to be to play at a high level in our league.
“I’m sure it has a lot to do with coming off of a second ACL, (but) we’re just so depleted depth-wise that we have to have him out there. I know he’d like to play better. I know he’s trying to play better but it’s been a tough year for him.”
Griffin and the safeties contributed mightily to the giant holes in the zone coverages the Vikings used in the second half. Even Tim Tebow was able to take advantage, completing 6 of 9 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
Griffin actually was taken out of the base defense during the last two series. He told reporters on Monday that he hadn’t heard Frazier’s comments. He declined comment, which he has done for all interview requests the past two months.
–The only positive to come out of the worst start in Vikings history was rookie quarterback Christian Ponder continuing to gain valuable playing experience.
Well, that’s also now in jeopardy. Coach Leslie Frazier announced that Ponder has a hip pointer, suffered during a hard hit early in Sunday’s 35-32 loss to the Broncos at Mall of America Field.
“We will have to see how he progresses as the week goes on,” Frazier said. “He took a hard shot early in the game, and was able to finish the game, but it did inhibit some of his movement. So we will see how he does as the week goes on.”
Frazier said Ponder will be limited in practice. With Donovan McNabb having been granted his release last Thursday, the Vikings will give second-year pro Joe Webb reps with the first team in practice this week. Webb started the last two games of last season, going 1-1 with a win at Philadelphia and a loss at Detroit.
Sage Rosenfels, who played with the Vikings in 2009, was added on waivers on Friday. Frazier said Rosenfels is too new to the offense to be able to start on Sunday.
Frazier is hopeful that Ponder’s health will improve throughout the week.
“It’s a hip pointer,” Frazier said. “He’s a guy who has relied on his mobility, and at times they can be a little tricky. But the trainers are telling me that he should be fine. He’s just going to take a few days, but he should be fine by the time we get ready to line up on Sunday.”
NFL Team Report – Minnesota Vikings – NOTES, QUOTES
–No Vikings coach had ever started 2-10 until Leslie Frazier lost on Sunday.
Frazier was asked how he’s handling the situation personally.
“You have to keep reminding yourself, and I was talking to my coaches about this, it is a journey, it’s a part of what we have to go through to get to where we want eventually,” he said. “I don’t foresee us forever being in this situation, there are some things that we are all learning, from what we are experiencing, and I really believe that we will look back on it in time and say OK, this is what happened in 2011 and this is why we are better in 2012, because of what happened in 2011.
“I have gone through some difficult times in the past and have been able to look back at some of those moments and to see how they have helped me later on, and that’s what I’m expecting to happen here. This is hard, there isn’t any question about it, and you hate losing games. I can’t even remember the last time I was in a situation where we lost 10 games in a season.
“It’s hard, but you have to be able to see the bigger picture. It’s our first year together as a staff, first year together as a team, and we have some things that we have to get corrected, but you can see some light beginning to shine. I think our young quarterback, even though he has made some mistakes, he gives you some hope in some areas. When you see guys fighting like Percy (Harvin), and in some other areas of our team, Jared (Allen) and others, it just lets you know, if we can fill in some pieces, we will have a chance.”
–Seven of the eight coaches who were part of a 2-14 season since 2002 were fired either during or after the season. That doesn’t appear to be what will happen to Frazier, who is in his first full season as an NFL head coach.
Owner Zygi Wilf told the Minneapolis Star Tribune after Sunday’s game that Frazier “definitely” will be brought back next season.
Frazier wasn’t interested in discussing his future when asked about Wilf’s comments on Monday.
“I’m really thinking more about Detroit (on Sunday) than the 2012 season,” Frazier said.