Next up for Vikings' Xavier Rhodes: Steelers' Antonio Brown, his hometown buddy
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — South Florida pride will be on the line Sunday, Sept. 17, when Xavier Rhodes faces off against Antonio Brown.
The Vikings cornerback and Pittsburgh Steelers receiver are Miami natives who attended the same high school and train together in the offseason.
"This will be more of a hometown (matchup)," Rhodes said. "We grew up in the same neighborhood. ... It's more going to be like a brotherly type thing."
Rhodes and Brown are among the best at their positions in the NFL. Rhodes is coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance, and Brown is a five-time Pro Bowl player.
Rhodes might shadow Brown during the game at Heinz Field, as he has done before with top receivers. Rhodes said Wednesday, Sept. 13, he doesn't know yet what the game plan will entail.
Brown, 29, is a 2006 graduate of Miami Norland High School while Rhodes, 27, graduated in 2009. They have maintained their friendship since Brown entered the NFL in 2010 and Rhodes in 2013.
"Every offseason, we tend to find time to work out, hang out," Rhodes said. "Basically, we try to find a field and work out together, but we all have our different things we need to do. He's a busy man, I'm a busy man. But when we find time to work out, we do it."
When Rhodes was a rookie, he covered Brown a bit in Minnesota's 34-27 victory over Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 2013, in London, the last time the teams met. Brown caught 12 passes for 88 yards, and Rhodes had three tackles.
Rhodes said facing Brown again will bring up plenty of memories of how far the two have come in football.
"We're just going to be happy we're going against each other," Rhodes said. "We're more proud of each other for making it this far and achieving what we achieve.
"When we were younger, you always have those moments when you want to be an NFL player, and to be able to accomplish that and to be able to line up against each other and be labeled one of the best at each position, it's a blessing. ... We're both looking forward to (Sunday)."
Brock vows to play
Cornerback Tramaine Brock vows to make his Vikings debut Sunday.
"I'll be out there,'' he said.
Brock was acquired Sept. 2 from Seattle and sat out Monday's opener against New Orleans with a groin injury. He was a full participant in practice Wednesday.
Brock was hurt in the Seahawks' preseason finale Aug. 31 and said one reason for the injury was taking the field last month after a long period of inactivity. Brock had been unsigned until felony domestic violence charges were dismissed against him in early August. He joined the Seahawks on Aug. 16.
"I wasn't playing football at the time, so just jumping out, I had to go straight into (playing for Seattle),'' Brock said.
Brock said it wasn't frustrating sitting out against the Saints because not only wasn't he fully healthy, he still was learning the defense.
The Vikings primarily used Terence Newman at nickel back Monday after Mackensie Alexander had been expected to play that role. With Brock able to play the nickel, it remains to be seen how he might factor in.
"I'm just trying to learn the defense and corner and nickel and whatever it may be to help the team make plays,'' Brock said.
Vikings lose Lee
Another young linebacker is gone from the Vikings.
San Francisco signed Elijah Lee, a seventh-round draft pick last April, off Minnesota's practice squad. That follows the Vikings earlier this month waiving third-year man Edmond Robinson and hoping to sign him to the practice squad before he was claimed by the New York Jets.
To replace Lee, the Vikings signed to the practice squad linebacker Antwione Williams, who appeared in 14 games last season with Detroit, including starting three times.
The 49ers had expressed interest in signing Lee to their practice squad after he was waived Sept. 2 by Minnesota. Lee ended up joining Minnesota's practice squad after the Vikings agreed to pay him slightly more than the $7,200 practice-squad minimum per week.
Barr sits out
Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr, who was in for all 62 defensive plays against the Saints, missed practice Wednesday with a hamstring injury.
Limited participants were quarterback Sam Bradford (knee) and linebacker Emmanuel Lamur (hamstring). Lamur said his hamstring, which he tweaked Monday, is not a concern.
Listed as a full participant was guard Danny Isidora, who sat out against New Orleans with a knee injury.
• Tight end Bucky Hodges, a sixth-round pick who was waived off injured reserve Tuesday, cleared waivers Wednesday and is a free agent. Hodges, along with Lee and seventh-round pick Jack Tocho, is one of 11 draftees from last April no longer with the team. Of the other eight, seven are on the 53-man roster and defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo, a seventh-round selection, is on the practice squad.
• Sunday's game features the two oldest defensive players in the NFL in Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison, 39, and Newman, who turned 39 last week and is four months younger than Harrison.
• Bradford lauded the play of Vikings rookie center Pat Elflein in his debut Monday. "His communication at the line was great,'' Bradford said. "I don't think he missed a call all night.''