Mano A Mano: Brackett vs. Tapeh

For the Vikings and Adrian Peterson, it's rather simple at times. Use Pro Bowl center Matt Birk and Pro Bowl left guard Steve Hutchinson to create an initial hole at the line of scrimmage. After that follow the lead of you fullback, Thomas Tapeh, as he gets to the second level to hit whoever is waiting. This Sunday, that man will be MLB Gary Brackett.

Most were surprised that the Vikings let FB Tony Richardson walk last season after making the Pro Bowl. To replace Richardson, Minnesota signed Tapeh away from Philadelphia.

Coach Brad Childress gives a quick scouting report of his new fullback: "He's probably not a knock-you-down fullback, but there are very few of those left in the league. He's more of a cover-you-up type of guy."

Vikings fullback Thomas Tapeh plows over Seattle's Brian Russell
AP Photo/Paul Battaglia

Kevin Brown over at Viking Update breaks down Tapeh this way: "[He's] solid blocking fullback. He's an effective lead blocker who also understands the pass blocking schemes and requirements for the position in the West Coast Offense."

Tapeh has no illusions about what his job entails. "My No. 1 job right now is to block," Tapeh said. "When they call the play, I'm going to go give Chester [Taylor] and Adrian [Peterson] everything that I've got. My biggest role is to make sure I protect Adrian and Chester and all the other running back as best I can," said Tapeh.

When Minnesota runs up the gut behind their talented interior line, the first Colt likely to have a beat on Peterson will be middle linebacker Gary Brackett, which is why the Tapeh-Brackett matchup is so important.

Brackett might be short in stature, but does show good initial pop when taking on blockers and is a solid leverage player when met in the hole. How Gary takes on the fullback block could be the difference between holding Peterson to a four-yard gain or a 14-yard gain — or more.

In these situations when Brackett is fully consumed by the fullback's block, it's integral that a safety is close and can be counted on to make the tackle.

Until QB Tarvaris Jackson proves that he can take advantage of them, do not be surprised to see plenty of eight-man fronts. Eight-man fronts makes a lot of sense against a team like Minnesota and a running back like Peterson.

However, if Indianapolis defenders miss tackles and are out of position like they were last week against Chicago and Matt Forte, it won't matter if they have 9 or 10 in the box.

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