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By The Sports Xchange December 26, 2013 6:47 PM
Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier had purposely avoided mentioning his uncertain job status around his players until changing his mind shortly after Sunday's lackluster 42-14 loss at the Cincinnati Bengals.EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. --
So on Tuesday, he went into his team meeting and brought it up for the first time. "It's like the elephant in the room," Frazier said when asked about the timing. "I just felt like I needed to get that addressed. Looking back at it, I probably should have dealt with it a week ago. I don't want those guys to be distracted. I want them to focus on the opponent. I felt like we got a little distracted last week. I want to make sure that we're all focused on one thing and that's winning this game against Detroit." Frazier heads into Sunday's game against the Lions at 4-10-1 this season and 20-33-1 since replacing Brad Childress as interim head coach with six games left in the 2010 season. Frazier's contract runs through the 2014 season, but NFL coaches typically get contract extensions or fired before reaching a lame-duck season. Obviously, Frazier isn't getting a multi-year extension after this season if he didn't get one in 2012 after posting a seven-win improvement during a playoff season. Like Frazier, Detroit's Jim Schwartz is out of the playoff picture (7-8) and in danger of losing his job. The Lions led the NFC North and were the healthiest team in the division before blowing the season with five losses in six games, including the past three. The game means nothing in terms of the playoffs and probably won't do anything to save Frazier's job. But Frazier typically gets maximum effort from his players, so he's still trying to do all he can to win a fourth straight home game in what will be the final game in the 31-year history of the Metrodome. The Lions, meanwhile, are trying to finish with a victory after going 7-23 in 30 Metrodome appearances. Unlike Frazier, Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel said he didn't think the team was distracted by Frazier's uncertain job status. "I didn't sense that at all," Cassel said. "I think the last game came down to pure execution. We didn't execute and it showed on third down and throughout the course of the game. We had (four) turnovers. Obviously, myself, I have to do a better job of taking care of the football. We just have to play better football." Linebacker Erin Henderson said Frazier's comments weren't necessary. "That was just something he wanted to do, that he felt was necessary," Henderson said. "We just go out and play football and control what we can control. (Frazier's job status) is something that's very far from our hands. We're just focusing on Detroit." Linebacker Chad Greenway also said it wasn't a significant distraction. "Maybe it is from the perspective of answering questions and stuff like that for him," Greenway said. "But for us, we have jobs to fight for too so we're trying to do our job as well we can." --Chances are rookie kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson will break a team record before he even exits the end zone on Sunday. Noted for bringing any and all kicks out of the end zone - including an NFL-record 109-yard touchdown - Patterson needs just four yards to break Buster Rhymes' single-season team mark of 1,345 yards set in 1985. On Sunday, Patterson had returns of 48, 44 and 34 yards at Cincinnati. Unlike Philadelphia a week earlier, the Bengals didn't kick the ball away from Patterson. "(Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer) told me that their coach is kind of arrogant; he's just like him," Patterson said. "He's going to kick it deep no matter who the returner is." Patterson was talking about Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons. "If they kick me the ball, I've just got make them pay for it," he said. "Every time I catch the ball, I feel like owe someone something." Patterson has scored a touchdown in each of the past four games. He's the first Vikings rookie to do so since Randy Moss scored one in seven straight games in 1998. --RB Adrian Peterson (foot, groin) returned Sunday after missing the Baltimore game because of a sprained right foot. But he clearly wasn't himself and was pulled after the Vikings fell behind by 28 points. Peterson didn't practice at all on Tuesday, but was limited on Thursday. He'll be re-evaluated on Friday. --RB Toby Gerhart (hamstring) re-injured his hamstring in the Eagles game, did not practice Tuesday and is unlikely to play against the Lions. --CB Shaun Prater (ankle) left Sunday's game briefly but returned. He hasn't practiced this week, but will be re-evaluated on Friday. He has been one of the surprise backups to step forward down the stretch. He has a chance to stick with the team beyond this season. --NT Letroy Guion (quadriceps) did not practice on Tuesday or Thursday and will be re-evaluated on Friday. Without Guion, the Vikings would have to lean on Fred Evans or Chase Baker, a second-year player and former practice squad player. --PR Marcus Sherels is second in the league with a 13.6-yard average. To set the Vikings' single-season record for punt returns, Sherels needs to finish with a 13.3-yard average or better. He also needs one more attempt to reach the minimum of 20. --LB Chad Greenway has 158 tackles, which is 19 more than any other Viking. So it's all but certain that he'll lead the team in tackles for the sixth consecutive season, which would tie the record set by former Vikings linebacker and current college scouting director Scott Studwell. --CB Xavier Rhodes has missed the past two games because of an ankle injury, yet his 23 passes defensed is still nine better than any other Viking. That's also a team record, breaking the previous mark of 19 set by Orlando Thomas in 1995. --DE Brian Robison has a career-high nine sacks, topping last year's total of 8.5. He's also half a sack behind team leader Jared Allen. The last time Allen didn't lead his team in sacks was 2006, his third year with the Chiefs. Robison does lead Allen in quarterback hurries, 38-35.