With less nickel, Mitchell to see more time

The opening-week statistics show just how much more the Lions used three receivers than the Bears. This week, Vikings defenders have to be ready for more run support, too, meaning more Marvin Mitchell on the field.

Although the Chicago Bears have some of the same type of offensive weapons that plagued the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday against the Detroit Lions, Marvin Mitchell is expected to have more opportunities this Sunday.

Mitchell, the weakside linebacker that started only two games for the Vikings last year, played only 15 of the 55 defensive snaps the Vikings had in Detroit, mainly because of the way the Lions attacked the Vikings. Detroit had three wide receivers on the field for 48 of their 80 offensive plays, and even when they had fewer the Vikings often elected to keep five defensive backs on the field.

Rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes played in 70 of the 80 snaps, which means Mitchell was out most of those turns.

"You know when you play Detroit each and every game there is going to be a lot of nickel," Mitchell said. "You've got to be patient and be able to go in when your time is called."

Detroit's high-low combination of Calvin Johnson deep and Reggie Bush underneath gave the Vikings all sorts of trouble – mainly with Bush. They limited Johnson to four catches for 37 yards, but Bush had four catches for 101 yards and 21 carries for 90 yards.

This week, the Bears could present a similar issue with Brandon Marshall as the big-bodied receiver and Matt Forte an adept rusher-receiver out of the backfield.

"Reggie coming to Detroit definitely created a little matchup problem for us," Mitchell said. "We've got to do a better job and we didn't. We're coming in here and getting that corrected. Chicago has dynamic players in Marshall and Forte, so our hands are going to be full this week."

Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said he thought Mitchell "did well" in his limited snaps against the Lions and anticipates more action for him in Chicago.

"I've liked what Marvin has done for us at the (weakside) linebacker spot. I know this is not going to be that type of ballgame, so Marvin will be on the field more with this group," Williams said. "They want to run the ball and they want to make sure they are a balanced attack so Marvin will get more snaps this week."

The statistics from Week 1 support that. While the Lions had three receivers on the field at the same time for 48 snaps, the Bears only employed that personnel grouping 16 times against the Bengals in their 64 offensive snaps.

Mitchell said the Vikings giving up 112 yards rushing and 357 yards passing was not because the Lions were more physical Sunday.

"Not at all. Definitely more mental issues. I think physically guys played hard. We ran to the ball. We were flying around the ball. If you look at the clips the way the guys were moving, if we get those techniques cleaned up, we'll be alright," he said.

"It's just techniques. When you look at film, it will be the little things, whether it's alignment, assignment, lining up right early, getting in your gap and just the things we go over."

This time, Mitchell will be a bigger part of that effort.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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