EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Wednesday he has spent a lot of time recently mulling over disciplinary actions for some of his players.
Its been an uneasy time for the first-year coach deciding how to deal with six arrests of players since he had the interim tag removed from his head coach title in January. There has also been the general discontentment with receiver Bernard Berrian.
Frazier met the most recent issues head-on this week, waiving Berrian and suspending cornerback Chris Cook, who has been charged with a felony of domestic assault and strangulation.
As we all know, in this arena, theres going to be situations, Frazier said. Its going to happen and how you handle those determines a lot of what type of success youre going to have long term. Handling adversity is a big deal in our league and sports and life in general. And you try to deal with.
Frazier received a crash course on how to deal with distractions in his first go-around as the interim coach last season when he took over a 3-7 football team, dealt with the roof collapse at the Metrodome sending his team on the road for home games and also a weather delay that turned a Sunday game into a Tuesday contest. Through it all, Frazier navigated the Vikings to a 3-3 record to earn the permanent job.
Unlike last year though, this season is full of personnel-related distractions. Frazier, believed to be the players choice to stay on as the full-time coach, isnt taking things lightly. While he has been respectful of the players situations while addressing the media, Frazier has made his intentions known in his actions.
Frazier cut tackle Bryant McKinnie in training camp after McKinnie showed up woefully out of shape. Berrian was deactivated for the week five game after engaging in a twitter feud with fans and reportedly showing up late to two meetings. Cedric Griffin was held out of the starting lineup for week five for what Frazier called disciplinary reasons.
In each case, Frazier said he reacts based on what he feels is best for the team.
Theres so many talented guys in the National Football League and you have to weigh every situation individually, Frazier said. I dont believe you can collectively say, This is the way it has to be verbatim. Every situation is sometimes a little bit different. You have to look at each case on an individual basis and then we make a decision based on whats best for our football team.
Frazier clearly believed moving on from Berrian is what helped the Vikings. Berrian was waived on Tuesday, never living up to the 6-year, 42 million contract he received as a free agent in 2008.
He had seven catches for 91 yards this season, and was inactive for two of the past three games.
One of the things we looked at was performance, for sure, Frazier said. You like to get more from the position. Stephen Burton is a young guy we want to develop. We think he has some promise. Were going to get a chance to look at him and see how he performs.
Berrian had indicated on Monday that he wanted to stay with the team. While Berrian seemed to say the right things, Frazier felt his actions didnt always follow through.
Bernard expressed to me he really wanted to be a part of our team and help us to be successful, but for what were trying to do and where we are, its just so important that every guy has to adhere to the way we want to get it done, Frazier said. Its one thing to say what Im going to do. Its another thing to do those things. For us, were trying to build something for the long term, not the short term. Youve got to make decisions based on the bigger picture.
How Cook fits into the big picture is a question now as well. The Vikings placed Cook on the reservesuspended list on Wednesday. His roster spot can be filled and Frazier said it was possible the team would bring in another defensive back.
Frazier said he had spoken with Cook, who was released Tuesday.
It is something we are highly concerned about and very disturbed about, and any matter that affects our team in a light that we dont feel is a positive light, were going to try and address those situations as soon as we can, Frazier said. Weve done that in this case and there could be other things forthcoming as we go forward.
Injuries adding to the woes: While he had to deal with Berrian and Cooks disciplinary issues, there were also injury-related situations Frazier is keeping his eye on.
Right guard Anthony Herrera has an LCL injury and Frazier said Herrera will likely be doubtful for this weeks game at Carolina. Herrera was injured during last Sundays game. He was fitted for a brace and returned to play, but later left for the remainder of the contest.
Cornerback Antoine Winfield practiced with his helmet on Wednesday, conducting a variety of drills, but still wasnt sure if he will be able to play Sunday as he recovers from neck stiffness. Winfield said he was going to practice Thursday with pads on to test himself against true contact.
Taking it day-to-day, Winfield said. Im feeling a lot better. I want to get out there and play, but if its not feeling good by Friday youll know about it.
Receiver Percy Harvin (ribs) did not participate in Wednesdays practice, though Frazier said he expects the receiver to play this Sunday.
Well try to get him out there tomorrow and put some pads on to see how he handles some contact, Frazier said. But he feels better, so well see.
Adrian Peterson (ankle), Visanthe Shiancoe (foot) and Erin Henderson (non-injury related) missed Wednesdays practice. Remi Ayodele (ankle), E.J. Henderson (knee) and Brian Robison (shoulder) were limited.
Safety Jamarca Sanford and center John Sullivan have each passed their concussion tests and returned to practice on Wednesday.
Well just monitor their progress over the course of the week, Frazier said.