Learning From Experience?

Vikings coach Mike Tice has seen firsthand what the lack of defensive respect for a backup QB can mean in the last two games. With Denver starting it's own veteran backup QB, will the Vikings overcompensate on stopping RB Clinton Portis or learn from the mistakes of others and play Denver as if Jake Plummer was starting?

As the word of Jake Plummer's freak foot injury spread, life in Vikings country got a little cocky. To paraphrase – "Steve Beuerlein? Yeah, right!"

But what do you think was being said in San Francisco and Atlanta when Gus Frerotte was brought in to replace Daunte Culpepper? Much the same. The difference is the Vikings can change the result.

Don't expect to see the Vikings change their defensive game plan too much because of Plummer's injury. While the threat of the running QB has gone away, Vikings fans have seen firsthand what happens when teams perceive an offensive weakness.

Why did Frerotte seemingly find Randy Moss at will while he was QB? Defenses didn't respect him and, too often, tried to sneak eight men "in the box" to throttle the running game. As a veteran, Frerotte checked off and found Moss single-covered. Don't expect to see much of that with Denver Sunday. While the linebackers will respect Culpepper, Moss will be doubled early and often (as in all day).

Defensively, the Vikings may be tempted to overload on stopping Clinton Portis. But, fresh off seeing two other teams underestimate their own backup QB, don't be stunned if the Vikes don't fall into that trap. Portis will get his yards, but the Vikings won't single cover Rod Smith or Ashley Lelie deep out of a lack of respect for Beuerlein. They know better.

* Michael Bennett began full-speed cutting drills Thursday and finished his practice showing no ill effects. He is still targeting Nov. 2 vs. Green Bay for his return. It will be interesting to see how the Vikings' offensive gameplan will change when and if he returns to the lineup.
* As a follow-up to that, a tight VU source has said that, even if Bennett is 100 percent, he won't be the featured back this season. It will be a time share and, if Moe Williams shows no signs of wearing down, Bennett won't get the majority of the carries. We're told that, while Tice wants to save Williams and give Onterrio Smith every chance to earn a larger role, until something drastic changes, Moe will continue to shoulder most of the load.
* Eden Prairie police officer Brent Griffith pleaded guilty to possessing a credit card in the name of Bennett he used to charge $120 in gas. A source close to the situation not employed by the Vikings told VU that, despite being found in the possession of "identity theft" documents, by pleading guilty Griffith will be able to get his police officer's license back in one year – barring a repeat performance. While this seems hard to imagine, VU was told that was key to the guilty plea.
* Kicker Aaron Elling has been curtailed in his work this week, suffering from back spasms. However, VU has been told his reduced workload is cautionary and that he is expected to kick Sunday.

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