Changes Coming On Defense

With the Vikings defense having been attacked in the run game the last two weeks, changes are in the offing to get more speed and aggressiveness in the run support game.

The Vikings haven't been pleased with the way the Broncos, Giants and Packers were able to exploit the running game the past three games since the Vikings' bye week. As a result, changes are expected to be made this week.

The main change may come at cornerback, where Ken Irvin is expected to start over Denard Walker. While Walker has done a solid job in pass coverage, Irvin has been better in run support. Because the Chargers are a run-first, run-second, pass-when-you-have-to offense, the change is expected to be announced later in the week. While it may not be permanent, it will give Irvin a chance to keep a starting role whether Walker returns to the starting lineup or not.

Another change may take place at linebacker, where Nick Rogers is competing this week with Henri Crockett for a starting job. Crockett has been invisible for stretches on defense, and Rogers gives the Vikings added speed to chase down plays to the outside.

The same could also be true at middle linebacker. While Greg Biekert isn't in danger of losing his starting spot at MLB, rookie E.J. Henderson is taking a lot of Biekert's repetitions in practice in hopes of filling in when the Vikings go to their nickel defense. While the Chargers rarely use three-receiver formations, it could translate into Henderson replacing Biekert for a series or two each half.

Will these changes help? The Vikings expect they will, if for no other reason to get players to work harder in part-time roles than having players wearing down in full-time jobs.

* Bryant McKinnie was wearing a protective boot Tuesday as protection for his injured ankle. At this point, it's questionable as to whether he can play Sunday, but Mike Tice indicated if he can practice Friday, he will likely play. If he can't practice, Everett Lindsay will likely get the start.
* Michael Bennett is expected to see his workload double this week. Tice said he had expected Bennett to get six to eight touches last Sunday (he got eight). The plan for this week is 10-15 touches if he stays on track and gets off to a strong start.
* The NFL made it official Tuesday when Sunday's game was announced that it would be played in San Diego. Wildfires in the area forced one game to be moved and there were questions about the Vikings game too, since Qualcomm Stadium was used as a catch-all site for those displaced by the fires. With the fires under control, the game will go on in San Diego.

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