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  1. #1
    simonsparre is offline Pro-Bowler
    Join Date
    Dec 1969

    Rams-Vikings: 5 things to watch..

    I took this from STLtoday, i think it's pretty good

    Cool-hand Brad

    At age 37, QB Brad Johnson has been a steadying influence for the Minnesota offense since Daunte Culpepper's season-ending knee injury Oct. 30 against Carolina.

    "He's one of those veteran guys, who understands the game, and understands where to go," Rams FS Mike Furrey said. "They always talk about his arm strength going away, but yet he's smart enough, and played the game long enough, that he knows where to put the ball at, and things like that."

    Johnson makes almost no mistakes - he has thrown eight TD passes with only two interceptions since taking over for Culpepper. He is accurate, disciplined, and doesn't mind checking down to underneath receivers. The Vikings are using more three-step drops with Johnson, which has led to fewer sacks behind a so-so offensive line. They are also going with a lot more play-action passes, which wasn't the case with Culpepper.

    Mr. Robinson's new neighborhood

    Talented, but tainted by drops and off-the-field problems in Seattle, WR Koren Robinson is beginning to make his presence felt in Minnesota.

    After Seattle released him June 2, Robinson began his tenure in Minnesota as the Vikings' No. 5 wideout. But he's worked his way up the depth chart and has developed into their top playmaker at wide receiver. He had a season-high 148 yards on four receptions last week against Detroit, the first 100-yard day for a Vikings receiver this season.

    Robinson has had few drops. He's also flourishing as a kick returner, ranking second in the NFC with a 25.9-yard average.

    "He's a talented athlete, and it looks like he's got his head together," Rams interim head coach Joe Vitt said.

    The rest of the bunch

    Despite the recent emergence of Robinson, the Vikings haven't been nearly as explosive without WR Randy Moss. Jermaine Wiggins leads all Vikings - and is tied for the NFC lead among tight ends - with 54 receptions. He helps keep the chains moving, but has no TDs, no catch longer than 24 yards, and is averaging a modest 8.9 yards a catch.

    Travis Taylor, who starts opposite Robinson at WR, lacks deep speed but is a dependable possession receiver with good size (6-1, 210) and good hands.

    On the ground, the Vikings have used a running back-by- committee approach. Mewelde Moore has a team-high 551 yards rushing but has been slowed by nagging injuries - including a quadriceps muscle problem this week - and isn't a workhorse type. Michael Bennett, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2002, isn't as fast as he used to be and is averaging only 3.1 yards a carry this season. Rookie Ciatrick Fason has been used in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

    The numbers haven't been overwhelming, but the Vikings have made a commitment to the running game during their five-game winning streak, running the ball 30 times or more in four of those contests.

    Sharper image

    Despite a glaring need at free safety, the Rams passed on the chance to sign former Packer Darren Sharper in free agency. He signed with the Vikings instead, and shares the NFC lead for interceptions with seven. Two of those have been returned for TDs. In comparison, the entire Rams secondary has six interceptions this season.

    Sharper gets to a lot of balls, jumps routes, and still has speed and range at age 30. He cleans up a lot of messes in the Minnesota secondary, which is what you want from a top- grade free safety. Led by Sharper, the Vikes have 18 interceptions this season, tied for second-best in the NFL.

    What's up front

    It could be worse. The Rams could be facing both Williamses at defensive tackle Sunday. But 2004 Pro Bowler Kevin Williams will miss his second full game with a knee injury. That leaves Pat Williams (no relation) to clog the middle for the Vikings. Big, strong, and tough to budge, P. Williams is a dominating nose tackle. He's quick enough to begin with, but also does a great job of anticipating the snap count.

    Stepping in for K. Williams has been University of Missouri product C.J. Mosley, a sixth-round draft pick last April. Mosley has made the most of his playing opportunity, with three sacks in his past two games.

  2. #2
    singersp's Avatar
    singersp is offline PPO Newshound
    Join Date
    Sep 2005

    Re: Rams-Vikings: 5 things to watch..

    [size=18px]The Call: Vikings vs. Rams[/size]

    Kevin Seifert, Star Tribune

    The Rams are one of the NFL's worst tackling teams and are giving up an average of 138.8 rushing yards per game. Their defensive front is nowhere close to that of Detroit, which dominated the Vikings last week, and coach Mike Tice is hoping for a breakout day today. The Vikings have resurrected their outside run game thanks to TE Jim Kleinsasser and pulling guards Anthony Herrera and Adam Goldberg. It might not matter whether RB Mewelde Moore or Michael Bennett gets the majority of carries.

    As bad as the Rams have been against the run, they've been worse against the pass. Opponents have thrown 24 touchdown passes and have an average quarterback rating of 98.0. The Vikings gradually have increased their vertical threat under Brad Johnson, using play-action and their commitment to the run to go downfield. All five WRs will suit up today, and Johnson should have his share of open receivers -- if he can avoid DE Leonard Little, whom Tice promised will not dominate today's game.

    The good news for the Vikings is that RB Marshall Faulk, who has scored six touchdowns in his past three games against them, is no longer a dominant player. The bad news: He has been replaced by the highly talented Steven Jackson, who has rushed for 869 yards this season. Jackson, a punishing 231-pounder, will test a strong run defense that has given up an average of 79.6 rushing yards in its past eight games. Veteran center Andy McCollum will take this week's punishment from NT Pat Williams.

    Oh, the nightmares. WRs Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt have combined for 37 receptions and 595 yards in their past three games against the Vikings. Yes, we know that's ancient history. Or is it? Bruce has slowed some, but the unspoken truth of the Vikings' winning streak is that opposing quarterbacks have missed open receivers. Rookie QB Ryan Fitzpatrick might fall in line with the rest of them, but we'll believe the Vikings can stop this unpredictable passing game when we see it.

    The Vikings suddenly are vulnerable in their kickoff coverage, and Rams KR Chris Johnson is capable of a big return. The other returner David Allen, is a former Viking who never showed great burst. It also will be Geezer Day with 41-year-old Rams P Bryan Barker and 40-year-old Vikings P Darren Bennett, who is replacing injured Chris Kluwe. Best news for the Vikings: The Rams coverage teams have been poor all year, giving up 25 yards per kickoff return and almost 12 yards per punt return.

    Mike Tice has gone from the hot seat to a handful of coach-of-the-year candidates, but his true test will come in the next four games as the Vikings fight for their playoff lives. Left in the rubbish pile, his team has performed well against inferior opponents. Now, can he get them to perform under playoff-like pressure? St. Louis interim coach Joe Vitt has done his best to hold together an impossible situation following Mike Martz's medical leave.

    This is not a gimme game by any stretch, and the Vikings' newly confident locker room would be well-advised to understand the recent history of these two teams. Simply put, the Vikings never even have slowed down this offense. St. Louis doesn't have the same team it once did, but it is dangerous and should be confident today. We'll see how the Vikings handle the pressure of knowing they must win out to ensure a playoff spot. They'll do it, but it shouldn't be easy.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  3. #3
    audioghost is offline Star Spokesman
    Join Date
    Dec 1969

    Re: Rams-Vikings: 5 things to watch..

    Here's some things to watch:

    Our O do good on their horrible D.

    Our DBs pickin thier rookie QB

    Our D-Line rippin Fitzpatrick to pieces!


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