IRVING, Texas — Thoughts from the practice field at Valley Ranch:
Offensive Line Shuffle
With the Dallas Cowboys now planning for the worst without Brian Waters in the lineup, expect to see some of the rotational mixes that we saw in training camp with this offensive line.
Mackenzy Bernadeau will be the starter at right guard between Travis Frederick and Doug Free, which is something this team has already played with through the Giants and Chiefs games this season. Without Waters, now comes the practice shuffle of Costa back into the mix at center, with also Bernadeau getting some reps there as well.
Travis Frederick will see some work at both guard spots along with Doug Free. As much as this coaching staff does not want to move Frederick or Free, it is quite possible this combination might be called on to finish a game this season. Jermey Parnell will still be the swing tackle and will go into the game if Free has to kick inside. The loss of Waters is huge to this offensive line, but of all the combinations listed above, it is something these players have at least practiced and used in a game.
Church To Answer The Bell
It was a shame that Barry Church had to come out of the Lions game with a hamstring injury when he did, because it put rookie Jakar Hamilton out on the field during a critical point in the game.
There were some questions after the game whether Church would be ready for the Vikings this week, but today he was on the practice field taking reps next to Jeff Heath with the first defense. Jakar Hamilton was able to get more work this week than he did last week, and that should be able to help him have a much better feel for what he needs to do in case he is called back into action.
Speaking of Jeff Heath, J.J. Wilcox should be back for the trip to New Orleans next week. Expect to see Heath in a rotational situation with both Church and Wilcox keeping him on the field.
Minnesota’s Quarterback Questions
Word out of Minnesota is that Josh Freeman will get the start against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. With the way the Vikings quarterbacks have played this season, it really hasn’t mattered who will hand the ball to Adrian Peterson.
Josh Freeman, compared to Christian Ponder, clearly has the more quarterback traits, but there is no telling where the ball is going to go when he throws it. The Vikings offense against the Giants was grab bag by Bill Musgrave in looking for plays that he could actually run.
With Ponder, you are going to get a quarterback that plays with a great deal of grit and toughness, but he is nowhere near as talented as Freeman. The problem the Vikings must have with Ponder is that he leaves plays on the field. There have been times where their skill players have been wide open and he either hasn’t seen them or is afraid to pull the trigger in fear of a mistake. Teams have loaded the box and dared these quarterbacks to beat them with their arms and it has yet to happen.
The biggest difference of the two, is that Ponder is more likely to try and make plays with his legs while, Freeman would much rather throw the ball than run.
Corner The Market
With no Morris Claiborne for the next two games, this Cowboys defense is at the critical point when it comes to needing healthy bodies to line up at that spot.
Rookie B.W. Webb has been getting work in practice during the season, and that helped him get through the time where he was on the field against the Lions. The Vikings play a more traditional offense with tight ends and a fullback. Dallas is going to still have to make a move to add another body to the mix. According to the front office, there is no desire to bring Sterling Moore back but instead look to bringing Micah Pellerin up off the practice squad.
Where Pellerin can help this squad is in a couple of areas. He has the length and physical size that you don’t get in Claiborne or Webb. Where Pellerin also helps you is that he is a much better special teamer than what you would get from Sterling Moore.
There is nothing wrong with this front office wanting to keep adding quality players in this area because of the dynamic returner that you are going to face this week in Cordarrelle Patterson. Micah Pellerin has been playing well on the scout teams but now with the second defense getting him ready for this move because he is needed.