StarTribune.com

November 2008


Vikings 34, Bears 14

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

About to fall behind 14-3, the Vikings stopped the Bears at the goal line at the start of the second quarter and then Gus Frerotte hit Bernard Berrian with a 99-yard touchdown pass that gave the Vikings a 10-7 lead. They never trailed again and went on to a 34-14 victory that put them in first place in the NFC North — one game ahead of the Bears and two ahead of the Packers.

Next week, the Vikings play at winless Detroit.

Are the Vikings finally the division favorites?

Artis Hicks inactive tonight

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Vikings right tackle Artis Hicks, who suffered a right elbow injury last week and was listed as questionable, is inactive tonight, meaning Ryan Cook will start at right tackle. Cook was demoted before last week’s game at Jacksonville.

Wide receiver Aundrae Allison is inactive for the first time this season. Allison was not on the injury report this week. The other inactives are kickoff returner Maurice Hicks, tight end Garrett Mills, linebacker Dontarrious Thomas, defensive end Otis Grigsby and defensive tackle Letroy Guion. John David Booty is the No. 3 quarterback.

The Bears inactives are quarterback Caleb Hanie, running back Kevin Jones, fullback Jason McKie, guard Terrence Metcalf, defensive tackle Matt Toeaina, wide receiver Brandon Rideau, wide receiver Marty Booker and defensive end Ervin Baldwin.

Jason Davis was activated from the practice squad and will start at fullback. Nick Roach will start in place of Hunter Hillenmeyer at linebacker. Corey Graham will start in place of Nathan Vasher at cornerback. Vasher was placed on injured reserve with a broken hand. 

Could this be the week?

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Vikings fans, not to mention team executives, have been holding their breath since Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams went to New York on Nov. 20 to appeal their four-game suspensions for violating the NFL’s steroid policy.Fox’s Jay Glazer, who broke this story related to ‘water pills’ and a product known as StarCaps in late October, reported today that the suspensions could be finalized by Tuesday. The story, picked up by the website Pro Football Talk, went on to say that if the suspenions aren’t handed down by Tuesday they won’t be imposed at all. That’s because there will be only four weeks left in the regular season after today and the NFL wants the suspensions served this year.

However, if the league suspends the players involved in this things could get ugly. According to Glazer, “Sources have told me that [the players potentially facing suspensions] have information that at least two high-ranking NFL members knew that there was an illegal substance called bumetanide in these StarCap pills and didn’t tell the players and didn’t tell the NFL players association.

“If the players are still found guilty, they are going to file a temporary restraining order in another jurisdiction. They’ll also file suit not just against [the manufactor of] StarCaps but against the National Football League as well as the individuals who withheld this information.”

The Vikings, of course, are part of the NFL and thus likely will have no comment on any legal action brought against the league by their players. But privately there is little doubt that it will be in the Vikings’ best interest — especially if they beat Chicago tonight and move into sole possession of first place in the NFC North — for the two star tackles to take action against the league if suspensions are handed down.

Five things: Vikings-Bears edition

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Five things to enjoy, ignore or digest (if you’re still hungry) as the Vikings get set for Sunday’s game against Chicago.

1) Running wild: Usually we try to stay away from duplication between this blog and items in Sunday’s paper but there is no ignoring this one in either place. Running back Adrian Peterson has averaged 141 rushing yards in three games against the Bears and has seven touchdowns. It’s no wonder Bears coach Lovie Smith called Peterson “the best player in the league” during a conference call with reporters this week. In the first game between the teams this season, Peterson rushed for 121 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns, including a season-high 54-yarder. That was the second of four consecutive games in which Peterson rushed for 100 yards. The only game in which Peterson did not get 100 yards against the Bears came in the Vikings’ 20-13 victory last December at the Metrodome when he had 78 yards on 20 carries and scored twice. There is no doubt the Bears will have eight or nine men in the box Sunday whenever Peterson is on the field.

2) Fast starters: After sitting around all day Sunday waiting to play, the Vikings are going to need to be sharp at the outset of this one. That’s because Chicago has scored 75 first-quarter points to rank fourth in the NFL behind Atlanta (88) and the New York Giants and Jets (78 apiece). The Vikings, by comparison, have scored 66 points in the opening quarter; Minnesota has given up 61 points in the first 15 minutes. Overall, Chicago is outscoring teams 75-44 in the first quarter.

3) A primary focus: In the Bears’ 48-41 victory over the Vikings on Oct. 19 at Soldier Field, Chicago tight ends Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark were key parts of the passing game. Olsen had a team-leading six receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown and Clark had three catches for 59 yards. Clark is battling a knee problem this week but Olsen is healthy and ready to go. This isn’t good news for a Vikings linebacker corps that has seen a few tight ends have big days this season. Houston’s Owen Daniels (11 catches, 133 yards) and Tampa Bay’s Jerramy Stevens (six catches, 84 yards) both led their teams in receiving against Minnesota. Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner is likely to have quarterback Kyle Orton look to Olsen throughout Sunday’s game or at least until the Vikings prove they can take him out of the equation. Don’t be surprised if safety Madieu Williams, who missed the first meeting at Soldier Field, plays a key role in covering Olsen.

4) An improved Orton: There is no doubt Kyle Orton is a far better quarterback this season. His performance against the Vikings in October (21 of 32 for 283 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions) resulted in a 114.5 quarterback rating. The Vikings likely will be hoping two factors impact Orton in this one. First, he suffered an ankle injury on Nov. 2 against Detroit. While he only missed one game, it’s likely Orton is still feeling the impact of that injury and the Vikings will try to take advantage by getting to him with their pass rush. Defensive end Jared Allen had two sacks against Orton the first time these teams met but that was it for Minnesota. The Vikings have 22 sacks in five home games and only eight in six road games. Four of those came last Sunday in Jacksonville. The other factor would be the noise in the Metrodome. Given that it’s a soldout game on a Sunday night, the decibel level figures to be pretty high. This can make it tough for opposing offenses to work. It will be interesting to see if the Bears come out the same no-huddle look they used against the Vikings in the first meeting. Chicago scored on its opening drive in that game, with Orton hitting Greg Olsen with an 18-yard pass.

5) Still looking: Vikings safety Darren Sharper might have had his first interception of the season last Sunday in Jacksonville but nickel back Benny Sapp knocked the ball away from his teammate. That’s the way Sharper’s season has gone when it comes to interceptions. Could this be the week the drought ends? Sharper loves playing in prime time and he has eight career interceptions agianst the Bears in his career. His last pick, in fact, came against Kyle Orton in the Vikings’ 20-13 victory over Chicago last December in a Monday night game. That was 13 games ago.

 

Hicks listed as questionable

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Right tackle Artis Hicks had limited participation in practice today and is listed as questionable on the injury report because of a right elbow injury. Hicks, who wore a brace on his elbow during practice, will be a game-time decision, according to Coach Brad Childress.

“[It's] mostly up to his pain threshold and what he can tolerate and what he can’t,” Childress said.

Per NFL guidelines, questionable means there is a 50 percent chance Hicks will play. Ryan Cook will get the start if Hicks is unable to play.

Tight end Garrett Mills (ankle) and linebackers David Herron (shoulder) and Vinny Ciurciu (hand) are also questionable.

For the Bears, wide receiver Marty Booker (knee), tight end Desmond Clark (knee) and fullback Jason McKie (quadricep) are questionable.

Hicks wears a brace

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Right tackle Artis Hicks was on the field today as the Vikings started practice and was wearing a brace on his injured right elbow. Hicks, who took over for Ryan Cook last week, aggravated the injury last Sunday against the Jaguars. He originally hurt the elbow on opening night against Green Bay when he was subbing for Bryant McKinnie at left tackle. The Vikings will be required to release the status for the players on their injury report after today’s practice. It would not be surprising if Hicks does try to play with the brace on his elbow Sunday night against Chicago.

 

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