Starting Changes Everywhere?

With just two games to go in the 2001 season, the Vikings might be making wholesale changes -- as in almost one-third of the starting positions being replaced by new starters.

The Vikings' injuries and lineup changes have been massive this season, but Sunday could bring one of the most sweeping one-week lineup swaps in team history.

As many as seven new starters could be in the lineup. We know Todd Bouman will be replaced by Spergon Wynn at quarterback, Robert Tate will replace Eric Kelly at cornerback and Orlando Thomas will replace Tyrone Carter at safety, but that may just be the beginning.

VU has been told Ed McDaniel likely won't play, much less start Sunday, being replaced by Jim Nelson -- a former Packer. There is also a chance that Lemanski Hall won't start. If that happens, he'll be replaced by recently acquired Andre O'Neal.

However, perhaps more troubling to Vikings observers is the hinting that guards David Dixon and Corbin Lacina won't start Sunday, being replaced by younger, less experienced players in Everett Lindsay and Calvin Collins.

The final decisions likely won't be made until this morning, but, with seven new starters this week that weren't starting last week can't bode well for the Vikings as they try to ruin the Packers' NFC Central title hopes.

* Michael Bennett is looking forward to today, despite wind chills expected to be near zero degrees. Raised in Milwaukee and playing for the University of Wisconsin, today will be the first time Bennett has returned to Wisconsin to play as a professional and he's up for the challenge in hopes of making a splash in front of many friends and family that hit him up for tickets.
* There is some belief that Bennett may get plenty of chances to succeed if the Vikings stay close to Green Bay. There has been talk that the potential changes on the offensive line today are being made to improve the run blocking.
* When the Packers get in close, watch for tight end Bubba Franks. He has nine touchdowns this year -- the most of any tight end in the NFL -- but all have come from six yards or less, three have come from 2 yards out and three more have come from the 1-yard line.
* Jacksonville defensive lineman Gary Walker was fined $5,000 by the league for a late hit on Todd Bouman. Although he had injured his thumb on the play before, the blow to his stomach on the next play was his final play of the game.

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