At 38, Vikings CB Terence Newman still winning vs. his age
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Terence Newman was on the inactive list at Detroit last week for the first time in two seasons with Minnesota.
Newman had a neck injury that didn't have enough time to heal with only three days between games.
With Dallas due in on Thursday, seeing Newman on the sideline again would sure be a surprise.
The age-defying 38-year-old cornerback was listed as a full participant in practice on Tuesday, and the Vikings could use all hands on deck against the potent offense the league-leading Cowboys (10-1) will bring.
Then there's that natural pride factor of wanting to perform well against his original team with several close friends still donning the silver helmets with the famous navy blue star. Newman, who still keeps a home in the Dallas area, played for the Cowboys for nine seasons through 2011.
''We shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears together,'' said Newman, who was drafted in the first round out of Kansas State in 2003. ''I love those guys.''
Barry Church, Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick are still around on the defense from Newman's last team with Dallas.
Dan Bailey, Dez Bryant, Doug Free, Tony Romo, Tyron Smith and Jason Witten are familiar faces to him on the other side of the ball, with the same unfulfilled goal.
''I don't play for money. I want a Super Bowl,'' Newman said. ''For me, that's kind of the hot girl that you see, you try to talk to, and she just doesn't really respond and she doesn't really want to have anything to do with you at this point. I'm still chasing her.''
The oldest cornerback in the NFL by almost two years , Newman has been a stalwart in the secondary for coach Mike Zimmer, his defensive coordinator with Cincinnati in 2012-13 and with Dallas from 2003-06.
Newman's savviness on the field, understanding of Zimmer's scheme and well-honed technique have been more than enough to make up for any lost agility and speed needed to cover wide receivers 15 years younger than him.
''I call him old man to his face, but I call him kid to everyone else,'' Zimmer said.
With Newman on one side, standout Xavier Rhodes on the other and veteran Captain Munnerlyn playing the slot in the nickel package, the Vikings have been able to bring 2015 first-round draft pick Trae Waynes along slowly and limited the exposure of 2016 second-round draft pick Mackensie Alexander.
Waynes has taken more and more of Newman's playing time as he's improved, but in the 16-13 loss to the Lions last week the leader of the group, Newman, was missed.
Munnerlyn described him as an extra coach on the field . Asked what age he'd think his teammate was without knowing while simply watching him play, Munnerlyn estimated mid-20s. An exaggeration, sure, but the Vikings wouldn't have re-signed him if he were a liability.
''He still can run, man, and he's a very smart football player,'' Munnerlyn said. ''But by him being so smart, I know he's old. He's seen a lot of football.''
Newman, who's second among active players with 41 interceptions behind DeAngelo Hall, has often cited red wine as his key to longevity. Good genes have helped with durability, of course, as has a diligent approach to fitness, training and recovery.
''There's days I feel like a kid, and there's days I feel like Zim. It comes and goes, but most of the time I do feel pretty good walking in here and going to practice. I love going to meetings and looking and film and listening to him talk, listening to our coaches talk,'' Newman said, adding:
''Being older, I get to sit in a room with a bunch of young guys and get what music is hip these days and the hot spots and listen to some of their stories. It's still fun for me, very much so.''
As long as there's still some tread on those tires, Newman said this week, he'll keep trying to play.
''I'm not as quick as I used to be, but where I lack in just pure speed and quickness I kind of try and make up for the mental part of it,'' Newman said, adding:
''There comes a point in everybody's career where you're not going to have what you had when you came in, and the only way to pick up slack is to really become a student of the game.''
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AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Frisco, Texas, contributed to this report.