Expect the Unexpected

The real question is which Minnesota Vikings team will show up? Will the Vikings we have come to know and dread, the ones who have dominated the orange and blue over most of the last five years show up? Or is it going to be the lackluster and troubled team that showed up on the field in 2001?

Last year Minnesota came down to earth with a humbling record of 5-11 and a fourth place finish in the old NFC central. On the other hand, the Bears skyrocketed to a 13-3 first place finish in the same division after five consecutive losing seasons.

This is a new year though, and the Vikings have a clean slate with their new coach Mike Tice. Tice, the team's former offensive line coach has a different and refreshing attitude than former long-time Viking coach Dennis Green. Whatever Tice is doing to change the attitude of the team is working, and the players like it.

"Offensive line (coaches) are not really considered cool, but he is the head guy now, and it's kind of sheik to play o-line now, at least on this team," said Vikings pro-bowl center Matt Birk.

The Vikings have a team full of talent, with possibly the most talented quarterback/wide receiver combination in the NFL, WR Randy Moss and QB Daunte Culpepper have the ability to carry an offense. Moss in just four NFL seasons has totaled almost 5,400 yards receiving, averaging almost 1,350 yards per season. Last year, Moss had a career high 80 receptions but had career lows in touchdowns and receiving yards.

Culpepper is now in his fourth season with the Minnesota Vikings. After playing in just one game his rookie season, he broke out in his second NFL season. Culpepper was named to a pro bowl after amassing nearly 3,400 yards passing and 33 touchdown passes, throwing just 16 interceptions. Unfortunately for Minnesota, he struggled through injuries, playing in just 11 of their 16 games throwing for 2,612 yards with 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Everyone knows that the Vikings has the offensive ability to score with any team in the league, their main concern over the last few years including last year was their defense. As a young and inexperienced defense last year, they struggled but improved, and in the off-season, they stockpiled their defense through the NFL draft. The Vikings spent five of their seven draft choices on defense. They also helped out their young secondary by adding veteran cornerback Corey Chavous.

So, as the potentially lethal offense heads into Champaign, the Bears must be ready for whatever comes their way. Last year the Vikings averaged eight points per game versus Chicago while losing both games, but in 2000 they averaged a whopping 29 points per game against the Bears while winning both games.

On September 8th, as the Bears step on the field to take on Minnesota, they had better be prepared for whatever comes their way. Whether it will be the refreshed and productive Minnesota Vikings, or the young and inconsistent Vikings, it should be fun.

Practice Squad: The Bears signed DB Travis Coleman, DT Curry Dawson, FB Tyree Foreman, TE John Gilmore and WR Edell Shepherd to the practice squad.

Coleman (5-11, 180, Hampton), Dawson (6-6, 294, Angelo State) and Shepherd (6-1, 175, San Jose State) spent the 2002 training camp with the Bears while Foreman (5-11, 230, Virginia) was in the Chargers camp and Gilmore (6-3, 265, Penn State) was with the Saints. Gilmore, chosen in the sixth round with 196th overall pick, was the only one of the group selected in the 2002 NFL draft.

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