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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Midweek Notebook: Vikings Vs Lions (Calvin Johnson, Kevin Williams, Reggie Bush, Antoine Winfield, Christian Ballard And More)


Photo – Aj Mansour (KFAN)

By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
@AjKFAN

Minneapolis, MN – Week one is upon us and the Minnesota Vikings are continuing their preparation for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions at Winter Park. The first Wednesday of the regular season marks the first Leslie Frazier/Christian Ponder pregame press conference, which in turn marks the first Midweek Notebook for KFAN and KFAN.com.

So here it is, all the news and notes leading up to Vikings vs Lions, Week 1…

Operation “Stop Calvin” is underway:
It’s no surprise, but when squaring off against the Detroit Lions, the first and most important thing to game plan is wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Last season, Johnson broke Jerry Rice’s record for most receiving yards in a season with 1,964 and this year Calvin is looking for even more.

“He’s a great player,” Coach Frazier said of Calvin. “He’s one of those guys where when you game plan, much like with Adrian, you have to have a plan for Calvin Johnson. He’s a tremendous player. Even though you may know that he’s going to be getting the football, you can’t always stop what he does.”

The game plan that the Vikings will look to implement on Sunday afternoon does not put the weight of stopping Calvin on the shoulders of just one player. It’s a team effort that starts at the front with the defensive line putting pressure on the quarterback, drops to the middle where the linebackers need to clog up the center of the field and then shifts into the defensive backfield where Chris Cook and Xavier Rhodes will look to use their size and physicality to throw Johnson off his routes.

Johnson and Vikings cornerback Chris Cook have some history already and believe it or not, Cook has done a decent job keeping the league’s most dominant receiver in check, comparitively speaking.

“Chris is one of them big corners,” Johnson told me Wednesday afternoon. “He can run, he can ball a little bit. It’s always a challenge going against somebody that’s your size out there.”

In addition to Cook, the Vikings plan to hit Johnson with a one-two punch and throw rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes into the mix as well. Despite Rhodes’ size and strength, that remains a matchup that makes Johnson salivate at the line of scrimmage.

“We’ve got to take advantage any inexperience,” Johnson said of matching up opposite Chris Cook. “He may be a great player or not but experience means a lot on Sundays.”

Kevin Williams still recovering, decision to be made Friday:
The week one status for starting nose tackle Kevin Williams has been pushed back to Friday and may very well turn into a game-time decision for Frazier and the Vikings. Williams, who took a nasty blow to the knee in the Vikings third preseason game, has yet to hit the practice field with his teammates but is reportedly making progress behind the scenes.

“He’s really improving,” Leslie Frazier said Wednesday. “He’s making a lot of progress. We’re anxious to see if he’s able to do anything today. He’s making good progress.”

Frazier said that he doesn’t expect Williams to rejoin the team for practice until Friday at the earliest. At that point the coaching staff will sit down and make a decision surrounding his week one status.

Floyd will get full test Wednesday:
If Williams is unable to go, all eyes turn squarely to rookie DT Sharrif Floyd. In his own respect, Floyd is also still recovering from an injury (knee surgery) and his status for Sunday is also up in the air.

“I need to see him get some practice under his belt,” Frazier said of Floyd. “Today will be the most extensive amount of work that he’s had in quite a while. We’ll see how he does and we’ll just gauge it throughout the week.”

If Floyd and Williams are both sidelined for Sunday, it will be next man up and Fred Evans filling in at the nose for Minnesota.

Reggie Bush poised to add missing dynamic to Detroit offense:
The Reggie Bush show moved into to Detroit during the offseason and the Lions are hoping the Bush’s dynamic style of play will serve as the missing piece to an already explosive offensive attack. This new dimension has not gone unnoticed by the Vikings and Coach Frazier.

“I think he’ll definitely add a lot to their offense,” Frazier said. “He’s another weapon for the quarterback. He does a great job of catching the ball out of the backfield and creating some mismatches for opposing defenses. He’s running the ball better. Take a look at what he did on tape at Miami, he did a good job of running the football as well. He’s a good added dimension for their offense and he should be a plus.”

No word from Winfield…yet:
The Antoine Winfield saga has not played out very favorably for those involved this offseason. Since being cut by the Seahawks over the weekend, Winfield has announced his plans to retire but there are doubts and nobody’s sure if he is planning on following through with that idea.

Frazier said Wednesday that although he did send Winfield a text looking to encourage him through this tough time, he has not recruited him to come back to play with the Vikings.

“I texted him and tried to encourage him,” Frazier said. “When a guy’s retired, you’ve got to let him go through what he’s going through. You don’t want to be talking people out of retirement if that’s what they want to do…It’s a big difference going from playing I think 15 years to going back and being just a regular citizen. It’s a transition and a lot of players struggle with that transition.”

Vikings moving forward with or without Christian Ballard:
It’s been almost a month now since DT Christian Ballard mysteriously disappeared from the team. Still officially gracing the “Active/Left Squad” list, rumors are running wild surrounding Ballard’s situation and his future with the team. Wednesday, Frazier offered a little update on the situation but was sure not to go into too much detail.

“I haven’t talked to him in about a week now,” Frazier shared Wednesday. “If he decides he wants to come back, he would have to go through us before he goes to another team.”

There’s no definitive word on what has pushed Ballard away from the Vikings, but given Frazier’s context of Ballard’s potential to head to another team, it doesn’t look good for Christian in Minnesota.

Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings updates and breaking Vikings news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjKFAN

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