Posted on Sun, Dec. 04, 2005
[size=18px]How it's played out[/size]
BY DON SEEHOLZER
After opening the season with five new starters, the Vikings' defense has finally come together over the past four weeks but not exactly in the way they expected. Here's a look at the five offseason additions and how they've done.
NT Pat Williams
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Preseason expectation: Signed as a run stopper and to take double teams off DT Kevin Williams.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Late-season update: Has outperformed his injured all-pro running mate. Now Pat is the Williams drawing double teams.
FS Darren Sharper
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Preseason expectation: Signed to be the QB of the secondary and give the Vikings a playmaker at the position.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Late-season update: Has done all that and more with seven interceptions, including two returns for touchdowns.
CB Fred Smoot
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Preseason expectation: Expected to pair with Antoine Winfield and give the Vikings a pair of shutdown corners.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Late-season update: Having a rough season before being shut down three games ago by a fractured collarbone. Former starter Brian Williams has played better.
LB Sam Cowart
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Preseason expectation: Acquired from the Jets to get everyone lined up right and be a steadying influence in the middle.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Late-season update: The Vikings got just what they thought they would in Cowart, who was well worth the seventh-round draft choice they gave up.
LB Napoleon Harris
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Preseason expectation: Acquired from Oakland in the Randy Moss trade, strong-side linebacker was supposed to be his natural position.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Late-season update: Outplayed from the start by Keith Newman, who moved into the starting lineup five games into the season and has emerged as a team leader.