The Vikings are looking to find their personality without wide receiver Randy Moss, and they will need other offensive players to step up in his expected absence. Here's a look at whose stock is rising and whose is falling.
Coach Mike Tice
spent a lot of time this week talking about the need for change with WR Randy Moss
' hamstring still not close to 100 percent.
At first, Tice said the team needed to change its "personality." He changed it to "approach" after a local columnist criticized him.
Not sure what the difference is, but, either way, the point was that the Vikings' offensive schemers need to wake up and realize Moss probably won't play this week against the Colts and probably won't be healthy again until the Nov. 21 Lions game or the Nov. 28 Jaguars game.
The Vikings believe the return this week of RB Onterrio Smith
comes at a good time. Smith won't start if rookie RB Mewelde Moore
's left ankle is healthy enough for him to play. But look for Smith to get the most carries and make the biggest impact of all the running backs.
"After Moss, Smith is the guy whose style gets us going better than anyone else," Tice said.
RB Moe Williams has played in 102 regular-season games as a Viking. That's sixth in team history for a running back. Williams' role has been greatly reduced because of younger teammates and injuries, but he's still the guy the Vikings turn to when pass protection or a yard near the goal line is needed.
DL Spencer Johnson, a rookie free agent, is expected to be activated for the first time on Monday night. Johnson has moved ahead of rookie third-round draft pick Darrion Scott on the depth chart.
CB Brian Williams, who had seven solo tackles against the Giants, also was praised for his blocking on kickoff returns.
WR-KR Kelly Campbell lobbied successfully to stay on as a kickoff returner. He's a threat to break a long one, but he also gets knocked over with arm tackles because of his lack of size. He's averaging 19.8 yards on 13 returns.
RB Michael Bennett picked up a 10-yard touchdown run during fourth-quarter garbage time against the Giants. He is averaging just 3.3 yards on six carries since coming back from a knee injury two weeks ago.
WR Marcus Robinson has been walking around with his sprained left foot in a protective walking boot. He said it's only a precaution and that he won't miss any playing time, especially if WR Randy Moss (strained right hamstring) isn't able to play. "Me and Randy both out? Puh-leeze," said Robinson as he hobbled away.
The Vikings extended their NFL record for consecutive games with a rushing average of at least 4.0 to 17. The previous record was 14 by the 1975-76 Steelers and 1964-65 Browns.
The Vikings gave up only 283 yards of offense in Sunday's 34-13 loss to the Giants. But they also gave up four rushing touchdowns of 5 yards or fewer. "We looked good when it came to yards allowed," said defensive end Lance Johnstone. "But not on touchdowns allowed."
The Vikings have more victories in November (100-78-4) than any other month. But they're 2-4 against the Colts in November.
QB Daunte Culpepper, an early leader in the MVP race, struggled against the Giants without a healthy Randy Moss and a complementary running attack. Culpepper posted season lows for completion percentage (57.1) and passer rating (60.7). "It's almost like you have to remind people that Superman is human," receiver Nate Burleson said. "Daunte, he's a great player. But we got to do the things as a supporting cast to help him out."
RB Mewelde Moore leads all NFL rookies in rushing yards (376) and rushing/receiving yards (614). Rookie DE Kenechi Udeze leads all NFL rookies in sacks (3.0).
Culpepper has played the Colts only once. He was 7 of 10 passing for 97 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a 134.2 passer rating in a 31-10 loss at Indianapolis in 2000.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm pretty sure that after losing this game there are people who will think this is the same team that fell apart last year. And we're not. We're going to show that next week in Indianapolis." — WR Kelly Campbell, speaking after Sunday's 34-13 loss to the Giants.