Since signing with the Vikings in 2004, I have been impressed with everything cornerback Antoine Winfield has done in purple.
He has been a leader on and off the field, as well as a guy who isn't afraid to stick his neck in the action regardless of his size (5'9", 180 lbs.).
If I had the chance to sit down with the veteran leader of the Vikings' secondary, these are some of the questions I would ask him:
1. What skill that you have right now is the most important in your opinion?
This is something I would be dying to know, because Antoine is one of the smartest players on the field. I'd be anxious to see if he thought it was his coverage skills, his ability against the run, or maybe his leadership with the younger corners on the team.
2. Why is defensive coordinator Leslie Fraizer's defensive scheme so successful?
Since leaving Indianapolis for the Vikings' defensive coordinator spot in the 2007 season after Mike Tomlin left to become the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Frazier has built off the Tampa two defense.
Tomlin also used that defense when he was the defensive backs coach in Tampa Bay, the same position Frazier was working in Indianapolis.
The idea behind this defense is letting every defender have an idea of where the offense is going with the ball. A lot of defenses use different forms of this defense and my question to Antoine would be what makes this work so well?
3. What do you help the younger corners such as Cedric Griffin and Charles Gordon with in practice during the week?
Cedric Griffin appears to be a younger Winfield with his hard hitting ability. I would ask Antoine what he does with these younger corners during the week to prepare for each offense.
While attending training camp practices every year, I have observed Antoine being a leader amongst the secondary unit and I would love to know the advice he has to the younger players.
4. What does second-year safety Tyrell Johnson bring to the table with your defense in 2009?
Johnson got a surprising start to the season last year when Madieu Williams was injured in training camp with a severe neck injury. He played well in place of Williams and was also a solid player on special teams units. Now that he has one year of experience in the NFL, I would ask Antoine about what Johnson does best and what he can improve on.
5. How much does it help to have a great defensive line putting pressure on the quarterback in regards to how you play the pass?
With the addition of Jared Allen on the end last year, the Vikings' defensive line consistently put pressure on the opposing quarterbacks last year, helping the secondary not have to stay in coverage as long.
I would be interested in exactly how much that helps the secondary and would ask Antoine how having good pressure up front can change what they like to do on defense.
6. How much does it hurt your secondary to lose a veteran guy like Darren Sharper?
Sharper has been one of the league's best safeties over the past decade and also a very smart leader. When losing somebody like that, I would be interested in what ways that hurts a defense.
I would ask Antoine about a veteran's presence on the field as well as in the locker room.
Being able to sit down with Antoine Winfield would be a great experience, one in which I could virtually not get enough information to be satisfied.
Winfield has always been a smart player in this league and having some time with him would make my day.