Taylor and McGahee should be busy again
[size=10pt]Taylor and McGahee should be busy again[/size]
An old-time exhibit of NFL running games will be on display Sunday, when the Vikings' Chester Taylor and Buffalo's Willis McGahee square off at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Taylor leads the NFL with 75 carries, while McGahee is tied for third with 71 (for a league-leading 311 yards). Both teams have proven backups, but for now it appears their coaching staffs prefer to grind it out with their starters rather than mix and match.
"We're depending on him," Bills coach Dick Jauron said of McGahee. "We knew we were going to feature him. We made no bones about it. He's come through the first three weeks."
Despite the presence of veteran Anthony Thomas, McGahee has accounted for 89 percent of this season's carries by Buffalo running backs. Taylor has occasionally given way to Mewelde Moore, Artose Pinner and Ciatrick Fason, but he has carried the ball 87 percent of the time.
Taylor said Thursday he is trying to maintain his weekly schedule of practice reps. But the Vikings might have taken the first step toward freshening him up Thursday, having him sit out part of practice because of what they termed an ankle injury.
Taylor is listed as probable on their injury report, meaning he is a "virtual certainty to play Sunday, according the NFL's new definition of "probable."
Linebacker Ben Leber did some light running but sat out practice again because of a sprained left knee. The Vikings have not ruled him out, but they are preparing to replace him for Sunday's game with Dontarrious Thomas and Jason Glenn.
"We're going to play who's healthy, to be honest with you," defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin said. "We're not going to overly concern ourselves with that. We have some very capable men. It's probably going to take more than one man if Ben doesn't play, but I'm not going to rule him out. Ben's a very tough guy."
In his weekly news conference, Tomlin said he is "very comfortable" with the Vikings' mostly unknown group of backup linebackers.
"I know [the media] has been a little more concerned about our linebacker position than we have since Day 1 when we go here," Tomlin said. "We mean what we say in that we like our guys. We trust that whoever plays is going to do the job. We have got one standard of expectations, and that is excellence. Whoever we put out there is going to meet those challenges."
â€¢ Defensive tackle Kevin Williams returned to practice Thursday after attending to a personal matter Wednesday.
â€¢ Defensive end Erasmus James has tentatively scheduled surgery for Oct. 12 to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Dr. Richard Steadman will perform the procedure.
â€¢ Game captains for this week will be nose tackle Pat Williams, cornerback Antoine Winfield and Glenn. Williams and Winfield both spent their careers in Buffalo before signing with the Vikings as free agents. Williams continues to be listed as questionable on the injury report because of an ankle injury, but he practiced for the second consecutive day Thursday.