Johnstone Named P.O.W.

It came as no surprise Tuesday when the NFL named Lance Johnstone as its NFC Defensive Player of the Week. After the performance he put in vs. Denver, he was the difference between winning and potentially losing.

Following Sunday's win, Mike Tice told VU one of the first things he did in the locker room after the game was present a game ball to Lance Johnstone. The NFL followed suit Tuesday, honoring Johnstone as the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

He made the choice fairly simple. Not only did he record 1.5 sacks, he recovered a Corey Chavous fumble following an interception that could have turned the tide of the game, picked off a pass early in the third quarter that he returned for a 33-yard touchdown and batted down the final pass of the day for the Broncos with the team pushing to get into the end zone to potentially tie the game in the final seconds.

Johnstone, who was something of a lost man when rookie Kevin Williams was moved from defensive tackle to end, has bided his time and worked his way back into the lineup as a pass rush specialist. With teams trailing to the Vikings so often this season, the need for a pass rush DE has been heightened and Johnstone has answered the call.

With the Giants coming in this week, don't expect much to change. To date, the G-Men are averaging more than 40 passes a game.

* VU got flooded with e-mails following the Vikings-Broncos game asking why Daunte Culpepper wasn't called for being over the line of scrimmage on the bizarre hook-and-lateral play to Randy Moss and later Moe Williams for a touchdown at the end of the first half. He was in fact over the line -- at least his left leg was when he planted to throw. But league rules say a QB must be completely beyond the line -- as must the ball -- for such a call to be made. Tice told VU when the play was reviewed, it wasn't just to see if Moss' toss was a lateral, but also to make sure Culpepper hadn't crossed the line. The NFL's official body chimed in Tuesday saying the play was legal and that Denver peeps can quit whining.
* John Avery's days appear to be numbered with the Vikings. In today's special teams practice, Onterrio Smith and Doug Chapman will compete for the starting kick returner job Sunday. Avery is not expected to be part of that competition -- at least not today.

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