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Newz Forum: FOOTBALL: Minnesota Vikings Preview 2004

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posted on Sep, 14 2004 @ 04:55 PM
It was a roller coaster ride for football fans in Minnesota in 2003, as the Vikings started 6-0, then went 3-7 the rest of the way. That 9-7 record wasn't good enough, as the team missed the playoffs on the final play of the season. Despite the collapse, head coach Mike Tice's team still boasted the top-ranked offense in the NFL last season. Leading the way was quarterback Dante Culpepper, whose improved play made the talented receiving corps even more dangerous. Top target Randy Moss will be joined this season by Marcus Robinson, a free agent signing from Baltimore, and solid holdovers Kelly Campbell and Nate Burleson.

At running back, Michael Bennett will continue to shoulder the load, with Onterrio Smith getting some carries as well. Each will be working behind an effective offensive line featuring all of last season's starters. The Vikings' defense, 23rd-ranked last season, remains a question mark. While the defensive line and secondary are solid, the linebacker corps is inexperienced and could be the team's weakness. Mike Tice is on the clock, the Minnesota Vikings' head coach has been known primarily for two things since taking over the team at the tail end of the 2001 season. One, the ill- conceived "Randy Ratio," in which wideout Randy Moss was to receive a preponderance of touches, contributed to Minnesota's 6-10 record in 2002. The second notable item during Tice's tenure was last year's 6-0 horrific collapse. The Vikings managed to lose to some of the NFL's worst teams during the slide, including the Giants, Raiders, Chargers, and Cardinals, all of which finished 4-12.



Key matchup(s): Since Las Vegas odds-makers have Philadelphia as the favorite in the NFC and Minnesota second, the two teams' NFC showdown on Monday Night Football on Sept. 20 will be a key early-season indicator of how good both teams can be. That will be a nationally televised game on ABC, and there is little doubt the talking heads will have plenty of comparisons between the Vikings' Randy Moss and the Eagles' Terrell Owens. The other key game is Nov. 14 at Green Bay. Most observers feels the NFC North will be a battle between the Vikings and Packers, and this first meeting at Lambeau Field could set the tone for the second half of the season.

Star Power: Daunte Culpepper (QB, 6-4,264, 6th year) to Randy Moss (WR, 6-4, 210, 7th year) has been the repeating theme the last few years in Minnesota, but if Michael Bennett (RB, 5-9, 209, 4th year) returns to full health in 2004 after a Pro Bowl season in 2002, along with a host of very talented complementary players on offense, this will be a dangerous unit. The Vikings also added veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield (CB, 5-9, 180, 6th year) on defense to go with a speed/youth movement on that side of the ball.

Notable Additions: Free agents Antoine Winfield (CB, 5-9, 180, 6th year, Buffalo), Marcus Robinson (WR, 6-3, 215, 8th year, Baltimore); drafted Kenechi Udeze (DE, 6-3, 281, R, USC) and Dontarrious Thomas (LB, 6-2, 241, R, Auburn) will also make an immediate impact.

Notable Subtractions: With a great salary cap position, the Vikings lost no one they wanted to keep.

Notable Returnees: Pro Bowl center Matt Birk, TE Jim Kleinsasser, DT Kevin Williams, DT Chris Hovan, S Corey Chavous.

Besides Atlanta's Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper may just be the toughest QB in the league to defend. He has a strong arm, he's very mobile, and he’s bigger than a lot of linebackers in the league. He's great at buying time with his feet and he runs very well for his size. And once he gets out of the pocket, he can be very tough to bring down. Improvements in his ability to read defenses and to protect the football have taken his game to the next level, and if he can remain consistent, the Vikings offense will be in good hands for years to come.

Minnesota has possibly the deepest backfield in the NFL with Michael Bennett, Onterrio Smith, and Moe Williams. And with a healthy Bennett on the field for a full season, the running game should match the quick-strike ability already seen in their passing game. Smith and Williams did a great job filling in for the injured starter during the first half of the 2003 season, and both backs fit well and compliment each other in this offense, but Bennett is an explosive runner who can take it all the way at anytime. He has tremendous speed, he hits the hole as hard as anyone in the league, and despite injury, he has average 5.0 yards per carry - or better - over the past two seasons. Smith, whose skills are similar to Bennett's, was an excellent value in the fourth round of last year's draft and could probably start for a lot of teams in the league. Williams is an excellent short-yardage back who seems to have a nose for the end zone, so he will most likely get the call in goal-line situations again this year. Randy Moss is the most dangerous receiver in the game today, and he appears to be in the best shape of his life. He has also dedicated himself as never before during the off-season, so he could be in for possibly the best year of his career, which is really saying something. Veteran wideout Marcus Robinson was brought in through free agency, and he should draw a little attention away from Moss and give Culpepper another big target. He doesn't possess the speed he once had (pre-injury), but he proved last season that he can still make big plays. Promising second-year receiver Nate Burleson will fill the No. 3 role and speedster Kelly Campbell, who could be a deep threat, will come in at No. 4 when the Vikings try to spread the field. Jim Kleinsasser is a good all-around tight end. He can block. He can catch the ball. And he's just an all-around tough guy. His backup will likely be Jermaine Wiggins, who is a good receiver in the short to intermediate range.

Last season's collapse was puzzling, and the lack of a postseason trip in 2004 would also be confounding for one of the league's most talented clubs. With the possible exception of linebacker, the Vikings are a top-tier team at every position, with two strong line units perhaps the most important components in that strength. The linebacking corps has talent as well, but Henderson and Thomas are young and should make mistakes here and there. Tice's main job will be getting his team to show up every week, which he failed to do in 2003. If the Vikings come to play, they should beat out Green Bay for the NFC North crown, and will have a chance to make a serious playoff run as well.

posted on Sep, 25 2004 @ 11:03 AM
Running back gets second opinion on knee

Vikings running back Michael Bennett on Friday was ruled out for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, but a new exam on his injured knee showed he should be ready following the team's bye week.

Bennett, who sprained the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee in an exhibition game Aug. 27, was examined in Cleveland by knee specialist Dr. John Bergfeld. No new damage was found.

``You're talking about a running back that's saying he's feeling great, but there's still a little laxity and you just want to make sure everything is perfect,'' coach Mike Tice said. ``I think it's smart to give him two more weeks to get his legs underneath him.''

After the Bears game, the Vikings have a bye week. They play Houston Oct. 10.

Onterrio Smith will make his second straight start in Bennett's place Sunday. Short-yardage specialist Moe Williams, who started the opener but sat out Monday's loss at Philadelphia with a sprained ankle, also is expected to play.

Injuries are nothing new for Bennett. He missed eight games last season with foot and ankle injuries, and also missed three games with a sprained ankle in 2001, his rookie season.

Bennett rushed for 447 yards and a touchdown on 90 carries in 2003.

Meanwhile, two other Vikings starters are scheduled to undergo major surgery next week.

Right tackle Mike Rosenthal, who broke his right foot against the Eagles, will have surgery Monday in North Carolina to insert a screw into the foot.

The screw will be removed in about four months, Barta said. Rosenthal, signed to a six-year, $15 million contract extension two weeks ago, should resume running by March.

Orthopedic podiatrist Dr. Robert Anderson, who repaired a fracture in Bennett's foot in July 2003, will perform the procedure.

Tight end Jim Kleinsasser, injured in the Vikings' season opener Sept. 12, will have surgery Tuesday to repair a torn ACL in his right knee.

Kleinsasser, who signed a five-year, $15 million extension in March, will be sidelined six to nine months. The Vikings hope Kleinsasser will be ready for the team's developmental camp next June.

The Vikings placed Rosenthal and Kleinsasser on injured reserve Wednesday.



posted on Oct, 14 2004 @ 08:42 PM
A solid start, as expected from this team. The onluy blip on thier record is a week 2 los to the Eagles, the other team vying for the title of best in the NFC. That los may be the motivation they need, as I would fully expect these teams to meet again come january.

posted on Oct, 18 2004 @ 09:33 PM
Vikings unsure if Moss' hamstring will be ready for next game

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- A strained right hamstring might cause Randy Moss to miss his first NFL game, but the Vikings won't make a decision on the receiver's availability until Friday at the earliest.

Coach Mike Tice described the injury as more than mild, but Moss has always been a fast healer and could be able to play a limited role in this week's game against the Tennessee Titans.

Moss, who has started 101 consecutive games, leads the league with eight touchdown receptions.

The All-Pro receiver was hurt in the second quarter of Sunday night's game in New Orleans -- when he tripped and fell after getting tangled up with Saints safety Jay Bellamy on a pass that was intercepted in the end zone.

Moss played on the Vikings' next possession, but he wasn't thrown to and headed to the locker room after that drive. He cheered Minnesota's 38-31 victory from the sideline, wearing a gray sweatsuit.

A seventh-year veteran, Moss has had recurring ankle sprains throughout his career and was bothered by a sore foot at the end of last season. But he has played in every game -- preseason, regular season and playoffs -- for the Vikings since they drafted him with the 21st overall pick in 1998.


posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 03:28 PM
Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper was nearly flawless in the first half, completing 17-of-19 passes to help the Vikings build a 14-point lead en route to a comfortable 20-3 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

It was the first duel between the in-form Culpepper and Steve McNair, the reigning co-Most Valuable Player.

But the marquee match-up of quarterbacks never really materialised since McNair aggravated a bruised sternum injury early in the second quarter after completing just 2-of-5 passes for two yards.


posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 04:04 PM

Vikings running back Mewelde Moore races for a first down as the Titans' Randy Starks looms.

posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 07:13 PM
A quality win over a previously solid team. But, without Moss in there, it's a good win...


posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 07:18 PM
So what about Mewelde Moore he has been a breakout in the 3 games he has started. 182yrds, 187yrds and 168yrds total in the 3 games..

posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 07:35 PM

Originally posted by TRD
So what about Mewelde Moore he has been a breakout in the 3 games he has started. 182yrds, 187yrds and 168yrds total in the 3 games..

...and they already had a couple of quality backs. Team that up with Culpepper and Moss... OMFG!!!


posted on Dec, 30 2004 @ 08:14 AM
The Minnesota Vikings squandered an opportunity to win the NFC North last week, but coach Mike Tice still has a chance to make the play-offs for the first time if the Vikings beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Many believed that Tice would have to make the post-season to keep his job, but that is not the case. On Monday, the Vikings exercised the 2005 option on Tice's contract.

But Tice will not have a pleasant off-season if the Vikings fail to make the play-offs again after a fast start. In 2003, Minnesota started 6-0, but lost seven of their last 10 games, including a heartbreaking season-ending 18-17 loss at Arizona. On the game's final play, Josh McCown threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Poole.

This season, the Vikings were 5-1 and held a three-game lead over the Green Bay Packers, but proceeded to lose six of their last nine and are now scrambling for a play-off spot. If the Vikings lose on Sunday, they will still make the play-offs if Carolina lose to New Orleans or if St Louis lose to the New York Jets.

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