For two members of the Minnesota Vikings, Everett Lindsay and Stalin Colinet, playing in the 35-13 win over the Green Bay Packers was, as the saying goes, "deja vu all over again."
The two had come to Minnesota as Vikings draft choices in the 1990s, but their tenure in Minnesota was interrupted by trades that saw Lindsay going to Baltimore, then on to Cleveland via free agency, and Colinet to Cleveland in a trade for nose tackle Jerry Ball.
Lindsay started at left guard against the Packers. Colinet started at defensive end and played both end and defensive tackle in a rotating scheme that proved to be extremely effective in stalemating Packers quarterback Brett Favre.
The 6-foot-4, 302-pound Lindsay had a stop-and-go start to his pro career the first time in a Purple uniform, spending a considerable amount of time on the injured list. But dating back to the final two regular-season games in 1998 with Minnesota he started in 34 consecutive games at either guard or tackle. He has played all five offensive line positions.
Colinet has also demonstrated his versatility, playing at end or tackle since being drafted by the Vikings in the third round in 1997.
Vikings coach Denny Green makes no bones about it — the Vikings will probably go the whole season this year without a set lineup in either the offensive or defensive lines.
"I don't know if we have a set lineup or not," he said. "I don't know if we have that kind of player, I really don't. (Chris) Liwienski and (Brad) Badger have played virtually every play at tackle, so has (Dave) Dixon (at guard) and so has (Matt) Birk (at center). The (left) guard situation has been a little different."
Corbin Lacina missed the Packers game due to a high ankle sprain suffered a week earlier against Detroit, and Lindsay filled Lacina's left guard spot against Green Bay. Lindsay's solid play will certainly put him as a mainstay in the rotation, if not a spot starter for much of the rest of the season.
A victory over Green Bay, in whatever fashion it might have been achieved, was a must situation for the Vikings. The fact that the Vikings' performance against the Packers was a huge turnaround compared to a week earlier versus Detroit made the win that much sweeter, according to Lindsay.
"Our execution was so much better," he said. "We didn't let ourselves get down when bad things happened early in the game. Instead, we overcame the negative things and kept a positive attitude through the whole game. We kept our game plan going and we made it work."
Maintaining a high level of intensity was a key to the Vikings' lop-sided win over a favored Packers team, and Lindsay knew that it would take the same degree of effort in order to beat the Bucs in Tampa Bay.
"We have to keep our intensity up against Tampa Bay. With their defense, with their front four and their linebackers and their speed, you have to stay intense. Their defense will dominate the game if you don't. The first game (this season), when we beat them up here, that's what led us to beat them — our intensity that we held all the way through the fourth quarter."
Colinet was pressed into service immediately after being acquired in a trade with Cleveland less than a week earlier. He told VU that everything felt familiar "once our D-line, the D-backs and the linebackers got into sync. And after a while you find out that they're backed up and the game becomes more fun and less strategic. You pretty much know what they're going to do. They're going to have to pass a lot just to climb out of the hole they got into. So that makes it more fun."
Green continues to suggest that the defensive line will probably be manned by a committee this season, a situation in which Colinet says he's very comfortable. "It's no problem for me," the affable 6-6, 288-pounder replied. "I can play anywhere you want. I just love to play." But, if there's a choice? "Left end, I guess."
Colinet grew up as a member of a large family in the Bronx in New York. The family went through an extremely worrisome experience after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.
"My brother lives only a couple of blocks away from the World Trade Center," he explained. "But, luckily, he wasn't home at the time. He had already left for work before it happened. We were sure upset for a while there."
Colinet arrived back in Minnesota wearing the signature cap bearing the FDNY insignia that honors the firemen who perished during rescue efforts at the WTC. VU
Cleveland Connections Contributing
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