Bennett To Start Monday?

Although Denny Green didn't come right out and say it -- he rarely does -- it's looking more like Michael Bennett will not only see playing time Monday, he may start.

When the Vikings play the Giants Monday, they will be facing a RB tandem of Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne that has been called "Thunder and Lightning" -- an inappropriate name since Dayne runs with the authority of a substitute high school teacher and Barber has followed up a 1,000-yard rushing season by spending as much time on the sidelines as taking swing passes that pass for lightning this year.

What's worse than that misplaced nickname? Whatever one that can be appropriated to Michael Bennett and Doug Chapman. What would it be? "Stutter and Stammer?" "Wheeze and Cough?" "Turn Your Ankle and Cough?" "Oy and Vey?"

Considering the Vikings used two picks on the first day of the last two drafts to get Bennett and Chapman, surprisingly little has been done by either to make them a clear-cut starter. Bennett has rushed for only 214 yards (3.5 yards a carry), while Chapman has rushed for 155 yards (3.3 yards a carry). Combined, they have carried the ball 108 times for 371 yards and no touchdowns. To put that in perspective, the two have combined for only 24 yards more than quarterback Daunte Culpepper has -- and he's done it on 53 fewer carries and he has five more TD runs.

So, it is with some nervousness that the Vikings intend to unveil their two-pronged running attack Monday night against the Giants. At the last practice, the Vikes split time with the first unit between Bennett and Chapman -- each taking about half the snaps. Word VU is hearing is that Dennis Green is so intent to prove himself right on the decision to draft Bennett on the first round that he may could well get the starting nod Monday night over Chapman.

Will it make a difference? Not unless one of them starts running with a little more intensity and breaks off a long run or two.

* Want the bizarre stat of the Dennis Green era? Special teams coach Gary Zauner has been with Green since 1994 and the two have a lot of confidence in each other. But, VU's gameday reporter John Holler points this out -- midway through Dennis Green's 10th season as head coach, Monday's game will be the 165th regular and postseason game of Green's coaching career. In that span, Green has NEVER tried a fake field goal or fake punt. While it's doubtful that STATS Inc., the idiot savants of the sports world, keep such numbers, it's amazing that the Vikings have never tried a little special teams trickery. They have such plays in their book, but maybe seeing Mitch Berger throw a pass has dissuaded them from that notion.
* As reported earlier this week, guard Corbin Lacina, offensive tackle Brad Badger and defensive tackle Winfield Garnett have been officially proclaimed out for Monday's game.
* While those three won't play, VU is being told that tight end Byron Chamberlain, who was injured following Jim Kleinsasser's end zone fumble, will play Monday despite pain in his injured knee.
* The Vikings and Korey Stringer's agent are denying a story from the St. Paul Pioneer Press that claims two bottles of dietary supplements that contained ephedrine -- more commonly known as speed to street peeps and diet freaks -- were found in Korey Stringer's locker on the day of his death and may have contributed to his death. Apparently, the story ignored the fact that no such dietary supplements or diuretics were found in Stringer's system. It's sad to see that, as the moment draws close to honoring Stringer Monday night that a tabloid-type story with no real credibility gives a black eye to the memory of one of the team's most popular players.
* Kick returner Nate Jacquet has not only seen his career resume after being reacquired by the Vikings, he'll have a few more Benjamins in his money clip. After being fined $5,000 by the league for taunting in the season opener, his fined has been reduced to $2,500.
* Cory Withrow was working out at guard at practice. While he technically is the backup center, if the Vikings' depleted offensive line should take another hit, he'd be next in line at the guard spot.

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