Vikings Close Out Home Schedule Today

The Vikings prepare to finish their home schedule today against Jacksonville and, like past seasons, there may be plenty of changes coming ahead.

When the Vikings ended their home schedule last year with a playoff win over New Orleans, few people could have known that they would be seeing the final Vikings home games for players like Robert Smith, John Randle, Todd Steussie, Korey Stringer, Dwayne Rudd, Moe Williams and Tony Williams.

However, as the 2001 season dawned all of those players were gone and the Vikings were beginning the process of rebuilding. That process has been a winding one, as the team has gone 5-2 at home, but failed to win away from the Metrodome. As a result, more changes are ahead.

Perhaps the biggest historical moment of today's game will be the final home game for Cris Carter, who is almost sure to be headed elsewhere in search of an elusive Super Bowl ring with another team next year. But this Vikings team is one that has begun the building process.

If nothing else, the injuries that have plagued the offense and defense have forced backup players into starting roles, giving the team more depth than was imagined it could at the beginning of the season.

While Carter is the big-name player that won't be back with the Vikings next year, it could be the final home game for several players and possibly some of the coaches today, making today a bittersweet ending for a team that came so close to a Super Bowl last year and now is fighting simply to reach .500 in a best-case scenario and avoid 10 losses in a worst-case scenario.

* The Vikings fans continue to be a supportive factor. Since Red McCombs bought the team, the Vikings have sold out every game and today's game will be another sell out.
* The Jaguars are hoping they won't see a repeat performance in the Metrodome that they saw last week. There has been a lot of talk of banning the sale of beer in plastic bottles since the debacle in Cleveland last week, but it was the Jaguars who were the targets of many of those bottles since they were playing the Browns. Expect to see some Jacksonville players looking skyward today, since bottle beer sales are allowed in the Metrodome.
* As expected, both Mark Brunell and Todd Bouman are going to start at QB, but neither is close to 100 percent.
* Brad Badger (toe) and Jim Kleinsasser (ankle) are both expected to return to the starting lineup today.

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