Thursday notes on Vikings-Bears game.
Burleson, Williams Out; Newman In
By Viking Update Staff
Date: Oct 13, 2005
As the Vikings settle in for their final practices before resuming the 2005 season, head coach Mike Tice gave word that two starters are out and another has been supplanted.
The Vikings envisioned a starting lineup at the beginning of the year that would be one of the most of the impressive in the NFC. But it included Matt Birk, who is gone for the season, Nate Burleson, who has been injured much of the season, several other players who have missed all or parts of games and Michael Bennett, who played his way out of a starting role.
On Wednesday, Mike Tice announced that Burleson and CB Brian Williams would miss another week and added that LB Keith Newman, who has been one of the few bright spots so far this season, will start Sunday.
Williams replaces Napoleon Harris, a player acquired in the trade that sent Randy Moss to the Raiders. Harris is expected to split time with Dontarrious Thomas in nickel packages.
* A list of 17 Vikings players has been turned over to authorities investigating last week's incident on Lake Minnetonka. One player who admitted being on the boat was RB Mewelde Moore, but he denied that there was any wrongdoing.
* As if the Vikings didn't have enough depth problems at DE with the loss of Kenechi Udeze, the team likely won't have Spencer Johnson for Sunday's game.
* At the end of his weekly talk show Wednesday, it's being reported that Tice guaranteed a win Sunday vs. the Bears. Considering he's never won there on the road, that could be a statement that comes back to bite him.
* Moe Williams was again hobbled at practice, wearing an ice bag on his knee and is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game.
* Previously injured starters Darren Sharper, E.J. Henderson and Lance Johnstone are all set to return to the lineup Sunday barring any last-minute setbacks.
* Tice hinted that, if he has a solid couple of days of practice, Melvin Fowler could well replace Cory Withrow as the starter -- again making Withrow one of the top backup centers in the league.
* The Bears will debut kicker Robbie Gould Sunday after releasing former Viking Doug Brien.
Re: Thursday notes on Vikings-Bears game.
thanks old man. too bad bout burley. at least newman is doing good. I MISS OFFORD.
Re: Thursday notes on Vikings-Bears game.
AND NOW FOR THE VIKINGS-BEARS GAME!
So far, life without Randy Moss has been rough on the Minnesota Vikings.
After a bye week, the Vikings try again to get their offense untracked when they visit another struggling NFC North team, the Chicago Bears.
Minnesota has not found a No. 1 receiver since trading Moss to the Oakland Raiders for linebacker Napoleon Harris and a pair of draft picks. After four games, Travis Taylor leads Minnesota with 215 receiving yards, less than half Moss' total with Oakland.
Turnovers also have been a problem for the Vikings as they have already committed 15, including 10 interceptions by Daunte Culpepper.
Culpepper was sacked nine times, intercepted twice and lost a fumble in Minnesota's 30-10 loss to Atlanta on Oct. 2.
"I took some good shots," Culpepper said. "It's definitely disappointing. There's a lot of talent on this football team."
Vikings coach Mike Tice is hoping Jerry Rhome and Foge Fazio can get more out of that talent as Minnesota plays three of its next four against divisional foes. Rhome and Fazio were named Vikings consultants on Monday.
Rhome, who coached Tice in Seattle as a rookie in 1981, will help with the playcalling, giving offensive coordinator Steve Loney more time to focus on the struggling offensive line.
"We certainly have a lot of work to do," Tice said Monday. "We all have to do a better job, starting with me."
While the offense is not the explosive unit it had been with Moss, Minnesota's defense has been even worse. Despite the addition of several new players, including Harris and linebackers Sam Cowart and Keith Newman, Minnesota is ranked 30th in total defense and last against the run.
Fazio, the Vikings' defensive coordinator from 1995-99, will try to change that.
"We added some consultants, but it boils down to players executing the game plan the coaches put in place," Newman said.
Fortunately for the Vikings, the rest of the NFC North has struggled as well. Minnesota and Chicago are tied for second place, one game behind Detroit.
Chicago has lost two in a row and has one of the league's most anemic offenses. Thomas Jones posted his third straight 100-yard rushing game Sunday, but the Bears fell 20-10 to the Cleveland Browns.
Although Jones has been productive, Chicago is ranked 27th in total offense.
While Minnesota has perhaps the most physically gifted quarterback in the league, Chicago's offensive woes were more predictable, with the Bears electing to go with rookie Kyle Orton as the starter after Rex Grossman broke his ankle and Chad Hutchinson was cut in the preseason.
Orton had a fumble in the fourth quarter last week that led to a Browns touchdown and went 16-for-26 for 117 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked four times.
"We can't find a way to win ball games," Bears safety Mike Brown said. "I hate to say it: We always find a way to lose. I know we have to find a way to win, but we always find a way to lose. Always. The only saving grace we have is our division is horrible."
It does not figure to get any easier for Orton this week, as left guard Ruben Brown and left tackle John Tait were injured against Cleveland. Brown (chest) and Tait (ankle) are both listed as questionable.
As is Jones, who has a bone bruise on his right knee. His strong production thus far has limited Cedric Benson, the fourth overall pick in the draft, to 24 carries and 65 yards.
STANDINGS: Vikings - 2nd place (tied), NFC North. Bears - 2nd place (tied), NFC North.
VIKINGS LEADERS: Offense - Culpepper, 1,019 passing yards, 4 passing TDs and 1 rushing TD; Mewelde Moore, 187 rushing yards; Taylor, 18 receptions and 215 receiving yards; Taylor and Troy Williamson, 2 receiving TDs. Defense - Lance Johnstone, 2 sacks; six with 1 INT.
BEARS LEADERS: Offense - Orton, 557 passing yards and 2 passing TDs; Jones, 413 rushing yards and 4 rushing TDs; Muhsin Muhammad, 22 receptions and 250 receiving yards; Marc Edwards and Muhammad, 1 receiving TD. Defense - Brian Urlacher, 4 sacks; Nathan Vasher, 3 INTs.
VIKINGS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense - 79.8 yards per game (26th in NFL); Passing Offense - 228.5 ypg (13th); Total Offense - 308.3 ypg (24th). Rushing Defense - 178.0 ypg (32nd); Passing Defense - 200.3 ypg (14th); Total Defense - 378.3 ypg (30th).
BEARS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense - 127.5 yards per game (9th); Passing Offense - 128.3 ypg (30th); Total Offense - 255.8 ypg (27th). Rushing Defense - 88.0 ypg (4th); Passing Defense - 181.8 ypg (7th); Total Defense - 269.8 ypg (3rd).
LAST MEETING: Dec. 5; Bears, 24-14. At Chicago, Hutchinson threw three TD passes in his first start of the season and the Bears sacked Culpepper five times and forced four turnovers. Jerry Azumah had two INTs as Chicago won its fourth straight home meeting with Minnesota.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Vikings - Since 1990, the Vikings are a league-best 13-3 after the bye week. ... WR Troy Williamson leads NFC rookies with 166 receiving yards. ... DT Kevin Williams has four sacks in his last three games against Chicago. Bears - WR Bobby Wade leads the NFL with 12.4 yards per punt return. ... The Bears have allowed opponents to score one TD in nine trips inside the red zone. ... CB Nathan Vasher has three INTs this season and eight in 20 career games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Vikings - 0-2 on the road; Bears - 1-1 at home.
INJURIES: Vikings - OUT: WR Nate Burleson (knee); CB Brian Williams (knee). DOUBTFUL: DT Spencer Johnson (knee). QUESTIONABLE: RB Moe Williams (knee). PROBABLE: LB E.J. Henderson (ankle); DE Johnstone (shoulder); S Darren Sharper (knee). Bears - OUT: QB Grossman (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: G Brown (chest); RB Jones (knee); T Tait (ankle). PROBABLE: DE Adewale Ogunleye (ankle).
Re: Thursday notes on Vikings-Bears game.
Vikings, Bears both have taken similar course to divisional showdown
From Slam Sports
CHICAGO (AP) - They say they're frustrated. They're better than this. Take away a few breakdowns here and there, and surely they wouldn't be 1-3.
The Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears have followed similar paths to Sunday's game at Soldier Field.
"We have to stay positive, keep working," Vikings linebacker Sam Cowart said. "Don't get disgruntled.
"It's early, but there is a sense of urgency. We're 1-3 with three division opponents coming up. It's imperative to get a 'W' this week."
Neither team had a good week leading up to this game.
The Vikings were rocked by allegations that players were at a party on Lake Minnetonka that involved drunkenness, nudity and sexual activity. The Bears simply had a miserable time at Cleveland last week, losing 20-10.
Running back Thomas Jones stretched a ligament in his right knee and left in the fourth quarter after gaining 137 yards, and left guard Ruben Brown (chest) and left tackle John Tait (sprained left ankle) were injured in that game. All three are questionable for Sunday.
If Jones can't play, rookie Cedric Benson likely will get his first extended look. It might not much matter who start, considering the Vikings are allowing a league-high 178 yards rushing per game and rank 30th in total defence.
"We have to stop the run; we have been saying that for a number of weeks," said Vikings coach Mike Tice, whose team is coming off a bye. "Everything in this league starts with stopping the run, and not turning the football over.
"We got to do a better job with both of those things."
Sprained left knees will sideline Minnesota wide receiver Nate Burleson, a native of Calgary, and and nickel cornerback Brian Williams.
But the allegations of lewd behaviour could be an even bigger distraction for Minnesota. No criminal charges had been filed, and it could take a couple of weeks before investigators finish interviewing people who were on the boats.
Tice said it's the kind of thing that "can tear a team apart or bring us together, and it's my job to bring the team together."
For their part, the Bears on-field struggles have been difficult enough: Safety Mike Brown was so frustrated by the Cleveland game he said the Bears "stink." He's not the only frustrated player in the Chicago locker room.
"I'm tired of losing," defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said. "I think that we're doing some good things.
"We have done stupid things and let things slip away. I think everyone in this locker room was frustrated. That's probably a good sign because guys are not just happy and wanting to collect checks. Guys want to win. I think we'll see a different team out there on Sunday." Although their defence ranks third, the Bears continue to get burned by big plays. On offence, costly turnovers are the bug.
After hinting at a shakeup in the secondary, where breakdowns resulted in long touchdowns against Cleveland, the Bears apparently will stand pat. Rookie Chris Harris and Charles Tillman were burned last week but are expected to remain in the lineup.
Bears rookie quarterback Kyle Orton, who threw five interceptions against Cincinnati two weeks ago, had better control against the Browns, completing 16-of-26 passes for 117 yards with no picks. But he made it clear he wants more.
"You can't stand back there and throw for 120 yards," Orton said. "I don't care how good the running game is.
"You can't throw for 120 yards and expect to win football games. I thought we threw the ball well with what we had called and the situations we had, but we've got to find ways to break the tackle and run for 40 yards or do something like that in the passing game."
Whether they open up the passing game or not, the Bears, who rank ninth in rushing yards, will need to establish a ground game.
Jones has three consecutive 100-yard performances. But without him, Benson would have an opportunity after struggling the first few weeks; an extended contract negotiation wiped out almost the entire training camp for the No. 4 pick in the draft, and he has had difficulty adapting to a backup role.
He had six yards on five attempts against Cleveland and fumbled in the third quarter, giving him 65 yards on 24 carries this season.
Re: Thursday notes on Vikings-Bears game.