Four years, foreign rosters

The Vikings and Patriots are both very different teams than they were when they last met in 2006, a 31-7 blowout for the Patriots. The coaching staff and a few players remain intact, but the rosters have largely turned over.

In the big scheme of things, four years isn't that long of a mile marker in most of our lives. Most lives aren't that much different today than they were four years ago. Life in the NFL is a much different story.

Consider the Vikings' Sunday opponent – the New England Patriots. The teams will meet four years and one day from their last meeting, a Monday night blowout by the Patriots by a count of 31-7. It was Brad Childress' first year as Vikings head coach. It was only four years ago, but his Vikings of 2010 that are heading into Foxboro for a late-afternoon Halloween party bear almost no resemblance to the Vikings that faced Bill Belichick's Patriots on Oct. 30, 2006.

The question at quarterback this week is whether Tarvaris Jackson will play. In that game, Jackson was sidelined after being injured in practice. Brad Johnson got the start, and when he threw three interceptions trivia answer Brooks Bollinger came into the game in relief.

The Vikings were still a year away from getting Adrian Peterson. Chester Taylor was the starter, getting relief help from Mewelde Moore and Artose Pinner. Taylor and Moore are third-down backs elsewhere, but they weren't for the Vikings in 2006.

Randy Moss wasn't even with the Patriots at that time – he was still in exile in Oakland – and the Vikings didn't have anything resembling the receiver corps as do now that they head to New England. In the last meeting, the Vikings completed passes to nine different players, including Moore, Troy Williamson, Travis Taylor, Chester Taylor, Jermaine Wiggins, Bethel Johnson, Billy McMullen, Tony Richardson and Richard Owens. None of them are still with the team and most of them have been gone for a while.

E.J. Henderson led the Vikings defense in tackles that game, but he was followed by Darren Sharper, Dwight Smith, Fred Smoot, Jayme Mitchell and Kenechi Udeze on the stat sheet. E.J. is the only member of that group left.

Perhaps not ironically, if you look at the Patriots roster from that game, aside from Brady, there are very few links to that team still with the Pats. It illustrates how fragile life in the NFL can be. It's hard to get a comment from players about the last time they played one another because, in the NFL, life expectancies are such that there are precious few who still remain.

Vikings fans hope that the core of the current team will still be together four years from now but, the reality may be different. A lot of the players that were on the Vikings in 2006 are still in the NFL, just not in Minnesota. You may not be that much different now than you were four years ago, but then you're not an NFL player, which, from the looks of things, may not be so bad.


  • The first injury reports were released Wednesday. Brett Favre (foot/ankle) and Steve Hutchinson (quadriceps) did not participate. Five others were limited – Pat Williams (quadriceps), John Sullivan (calf), Lito Sheppard (hand), Letroy Guion (hamstring) and Chris DeGeare (ankle).

  • Two players – Husain Abdullah (concussion) and Chris Cook (knee) – were listed on the injury report, but took part fully in Wednesday's practice.

  • If it's any consolation, Favre wasn't listed on the injury report with elbow problems any more.

  • Two Patriots safeties – Patrick Chung (knee) and Jarrad Page (calf) – didn't participate in Wednesday's practice.

  • Nose tackle Vince Wilfork was also out, but it wasn't injury-related. Belichick is known for giving veterans a day off on Wednesdays at points during the season and it would appear it is simply Wilfork's turn.

  • In his conference call with the Boston media, Childress was asked about statements he made about the Patriots stealing the Vikings signals in their 31-7 game in 2006. While he said he didn't mean to offend anyone, he added it was "just the way I viewed it" – something of a backhanded apology.

  • The NFL Network has a video on its website in which Carl Johnson explains the Visanthe Shiancoe overruled touchdown against the Packers. Seeing as that score would have given the Vikings a 21-14 lead instead of the 17-14 lead it took to halftime, it doesn't give consolation to Vikings fans as Johnson explains why the refs blew the call. Hopefully he won't get fined for his honesty.

  • As expected, Moss helped assistant coaches with his knowledge of the Patriots offense and what nuances may be "tells" for Brady and the offense.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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