The Vikings did some shuffling along the defensive line this week, reacquiring Stalin Colinet from the Cleveland Browns. Colinet was pronounced the starter at left end against the Packers with Talance Sawyer on the right side.
Head coach Dennis Green said Lance Johnstone will serve as a pass-rusher in nickel-type situations. Johnstone, who was signed as a free agent from the Raiders during the offseason, led Oakland in sacks in 1998 and '99 with 11 and 10, respectively. However, as a starter for the first five games with the Vikings he had no sacks.
"We feel adding Stalin Colinet should help us," Green said. "He gives us a little bit more size (Colinet is 6-6, 290 pounds compared to Johnstone at 6-4, 253). He can play outside and inside."
Colinet, the Vikings' third-round draft choice out of Boston College in 1997, was traded to the Browns for Jerry Ball in 1999. He started all 16 games last season, compiling a career-high 32 tackles and three sacks but saw limited action this season under new coach Butch Davis. The Browns' defensive coordinator is Foge Fazio, who served in a similar capacity with the Vikings during Colinet's first stint in Minnesota.
While Colinet had been playing inside for the Browns, the Vikings like him more on the end.
"Cleveland has probably one of the best fronts in the National Football League," Green said. "A lot of people don't realize it because they don't see them a lot on national TV. ... That's quite a defense they have stacked up there."
Colinet, meanwhile, is delighted to be back with the Vikings.
"I did not have any inclination," he said of the deal. "I was in meetings (Tuesday) and one of the guys grabbed me out and started talking to me and said, `Minnesota is very interested' and there might be a deal that is going through. How did I feel about it? Two thumbs up."
The transition is not expected to be too difficult for Colinet because Fazio and the Browns use a very similar scheme to the Vikings. "I think the scheme here is pretty much similar to what the scheme was in Cleveland," Colinet said. "They have a gap-oriented defense where everybody is trying to get up the field, and if you are not in your gap the defense pretty much falls apart."
Strong safety Henry Jones, who joined the Vikings after Robert Griffith was injured in Week 2 against the Bears and immediately took over as a starter, knows what Colinet is going through.
"It's tough," Jones said. "It can be done, but it can be difficult as well. Once you get out there, you are trying to worry about what you need to do, where you need to go and then you have to react to the offense. You would rather have them react to you, but sometimes you get to thinking a little bit and it can slow you down. You would like to have things under your belt a lot better before you get out there."
In the deal for Colinet — the third trade this season between the Vikings and Browns — the Vikings also were believed to have acquired a seventh-round pick in 2003 and gave up a fifth-round choice in 2003.
To make room for Colinet, the Vikings released receiver-return man Nate Jacquet.
* Colinet on what he likes about playing for the Vikings: "The coaching staff. Denny Green is always going to be straightforward with you. He's a player's coach. He organizes his practices and his schemes too pretty much benefit the players. There is not too much talking down to you, it's actually talking with you and eye-to-eye, man-to-man. He's not doing it just to do it, he's doing it because he has a passion for the game and wants the best for everybody."
* Colinet and Vikings tackle Chris Hovan also were teammates for one season at Boston College. "We were catching up and it's so funny," Colinet said. "I remember being at BC and he was coming in as a freshman and asking me questions. Now I'm asking, ‘What's this defense called?'" VU
Trade a Pleasant Surprise for Colinet
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