Vikings will have tough interior task

The Vikings have injuries along the offensive line and will be facing an atypical nose tackle in Buffalo's Kyle Williams. The fifth-year pro is emerging as a Pro Bowl-caliber player and will be going against a banged-up offensive line.

Nose tackle Kyle Williams can pick up some Pro Bowl votes this Sunday depending on how he plays against the interior of Minnesota's line, led by Pro Bowl left guard Steve Hutchinson.

Hutchinson, who has a broken thumb, is expected to play with a heavily wrapped cast. The Vikings rank 10th in the NFL in rushing with running back Adrian Peterson, who is third individually with 1,016 yards and eight touchdowns.

Williams, a fifth-year pro out of LSU, is enjoying his best season. He ranks third on the Bills in tackles with 60 and is first in sacks with 5.0. Last week against Pittsburgh, he was a one-man wrecking crew, drawing four holding penalties while finishing with 10 tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss and three QB hits.

Williams was enjoying a very good year in 2009 until nagging injuries hit.

"I think last year, I was having a really good year and then I got hurt. I missed a few games with my knee," he said. "I just think that every year you need to build on what you did in the last season and hopefully just keep getting better and better. I think there towards the end of last year I've just kept building on that and it just got better for me."

Bills coach Chan Gailey, who has been around a lot of good football players in his long coaching career, said Williams just isn't the prototypical nose tackle at 6-1, 306, he's "not a typical anything. He's an amazing guy. He's got unusual quickness, unusual competitiveness, and unusual strength. He just doesn't have the body that everybody thinks is a typical nose guard. Everything else is typical nose guard, except faster. I see him playing a long time ... I'm not going to put him in a box and say what he is, but he's going to play for a long time for this football team."

Williams is just focused on Sunday and slowing Peterson down. The Bills, 2-9 with three overtime losses, have been highly competitive the last seven games but the record doesn't reflect it. That eats at the competitive Williams.

"He's obviously, if not the best back, in the top two or three guys in the league," he said of the talented Peterson, who has a bad ankle but is expected to play.

"Anytime you play those guys you know that they want to get him going. He's hard to bring down. We've got to tackle well because that's what we've struggled with big time (Bills rank 32nd against the run). This will be a big challenge for us."

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 — Career-high sacks by NT Kyle Williams, who is making his case for the Pro Bowl.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's kind of what the league is like. They've lost a number of close games and so have we. It's just how it falls sometimes. They do have a tremendous amount of talent over there and you can't discount that regardless of what their record is." — WR Lee Evans on the Vikings' surprisingly poor 4-7 record.

NOTES

  • DE Dwan Edwards was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a severe hamstring injury. Edwards was hurt in last Sunday's overtime loss to Pittsburgh. He's the third veteran free agent signed by Buffalo who could not finish the season (LB Andra Davis, shoulder and OT Cornell Green, injury settlement).

  • QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has 19 TD passes, will look to execute a quick-rhythm attack at Minnesota Sunday. The Vikings have a strong pass rush, led by Jared Allen with 7.5 sacks and Ray Edwards with 5.5. Edwards is questionable with a bad ankle.

  • RB C.J. Spiller, who has missed two games with a hamstring injury, has been cleared to play Sunday at Minnesota. He practiced again Thursday. The rookie first-round pick has just 41 carries for 164 yards and no TDs.

  • TE Shawn Nelson is dealing with migraine headache issues and is questionable for Sunday's game at Minnesota. He did not practice for a second day.

  • TE Mike Caussin was signed to the 53-man roster off Jacksonville's practice squad. The 6-5, 252-pound rookie out of James Madison caught 66 passes for 1,009 yards and 14 touchdowns during his college career.


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