EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- Ed McDaniel, the Minnesota Vikings' leading tackler, is optimistic about facing Emmitt Smith and the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs despite a sprained right knee.
McDaniel, who had reconstructive surgery on the same knee last
offseason but still managed 164 tackles, sat out the second half of the
Vikings' 24-17 victory over Detroit on Sunday.
``It wasn't that serious, but I wanted just to take a precaution,' McDaniel
said Monday. ``I didn't want to go out there and really mess it up more
than it is.'
Vikings trainer Chuck Barta said an MRI revealed only a mildly sprained
medial collateral ligament and that there was no damage to the middle
linebacker's surgically-repaired anterior cruciate ligament.
``It's basically just stretched, a first-degree sprain,' Barta said.
McDaniel, who's had both knees reconstructed, might have avoided the
injury with a knee brace, something he refuses to wear.
``I figure, you wear a brace, sometimes you rely on the brace and that
takes away how you go out there and play,' McDaniel said.
McDaniel was injured in the second quarter when a player fell into his
right leg, buckling it at the knee. But, having been through two major
knee injuries, he knew this one wasn't that serious.
Still, he didn't mind sitting out the second half.
``Win, lose or draw, we were still going to be in the playoffs,' McDaniel
said. ``And the defense was playing well.'
The Vikings (10-6) enter Sunday's wild-card game against the Cowboys
(8-8) with a remarkably healthy team.
They did lose special teams ace John Henry Mills to a torn triceps
Sunday and Robert Smith, who surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark
for the third straight season, is still fighting the flu that had him vomiting on
But McDaniel will practice Wednesday and if his knee holds up, he'll be
upgraded from questionable, coach Dennis Green said.
The Vikings breathed a huge sigh of relief when they learned McDaniel's
injury wasn't like the last one, when he needed an operation and six
months of rehabilitation.
They'll need him Sunday to help contain the rejuvenated Smith, who
burned the Vikings for 140 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries
in the first half of a Nov. 8 game before leaving with a broken hand.
Vikings defensive coordinator Foge Fazio said Smith is every bit the
big-time back he was when the Cowboys owned the league in the early
``I tell you, I thought maybe he lost a little bit, but against us the first time
we played them he was outstanding,' Fazio said. ``Fortunately for us he
The Cowboys led 17-0 when Smith went to the locker room but lost
``He's a great back,' McDaniel said. ``You look at all the HBO clips,
you've got him up there amongst the best. We know they're going to
come in here and run the ball because Emmitt had a pretty good game
going on when we played them.
``And if we don't stop that,' McDaniel added, ``we're pretty much going
to be done.'
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