Moore Downgraded, Perhaps Out

The Vikings announced Friday that Mewelde Moore was downgraded to questionable for Monday's game, opening speculation that he will be deactivated and the race for the primary running back for the Vikings will be even more wide open.

The questions concerning the running back situation with the Vikings took an interesting turn Friday, as the team downgraded Mewelde Moore to questionable for Monday's game with the Colts. Word is that Moore may be de-activated for the game – opening the door for Michael Bennett and Onterrio Smith to test their parts to try to take control as the bell cow for the rush offense.

Ever since Smith went on suspension, questions began to surface as to what the Vikings would do. At first, the concerns were that Moore and Moe Williams wouldn't get the job done. With those concerns dismissed – although some national football observers think Moore is too small – the question of how to address the running back glut took a different tone.

To use the time-honored NFL cliché, when is a starting job lost? By injury? By time missed? By performance?

If Moore can't defend his version of the Vikings 'running back title belt Monday, it becomes up for grabs. You've seen the OC. You can't miss C.S.I. Welcome to the Minnesota R.B.C. – Running Back By Committee. It premieres Monday night on ABC at 8 o'clock Vikings time.

* Randy Moss didn't practice Friday, truly leaving him questionable and a game time decision for the Monday matchup.
* If Moss can will his way through the pain to play, the timing couldn't be better. In nine career Monday night games, he has 11 touchdowns and five 100-yard games.
* Moss is a nocturnal nightmare regardless of the date. In 19 career prime-time games, he has 20 touchdowns. Deion may have to give up that handle.
* The Vikings are 5-1 in their last six games against the Colts, but, the last time they met in the regular season finale of the 2000 season, Daunte Culpepper started with an existing ankle injury and made it worse by playing. The Vikings lost that game 31-10, with Peyton Manning throwing four TD passes – three to Marvin Harrison.
* Gamblers alert! The home team has won the last 10 meetings in the Vikings-Colts rivalry. How long does that stretch? Back to 1966, when the Vikings and Colts played twice a year – prior to the AFL-NFL merger.
* For you numbers crunchers out there, aside from Moss falling short of Cris Carter's career consecutive starts as wide receiver, the passing games shouldn't suffer. The Vikings have the NFL's top-rated offense, but the Colts are No. 2
* The defenses will be the determining factor in which offense can control the pace of Monday's game. The Vikings are ninth vs. the run, 27th vs. the pass and 25th overall in the NFL. Yet, they hold the edge in the matchup with Tony Dungy. The Colts are 16th vs. the run and last vs. the pass and overall. Somewhere Dick Vermeil shrugs.
* Moore's 614 total yards leads all rookies in the NFL – and he got it done in four games.
* Dungy is 6-6 as an opposing head coach vs. the Vikings.
* In 14 combined games, Culpepper and Manning have 42 touchdowns. As incredible as both of their seasons have been, they'll need six TDs between them to equal what Dan Marino did by himself in 16 games to set the mark both of them are aiming for.
* The Vikings have 330 yards or more on offense in an NFL-record 36 straight games. Most don't see 37 as being too hard to get to.
* For you anal-retentive numbers crunchers and percentage peeps, check this one. Culpepper has a passer rating of 131.5 on third down – best of any QB in the NFL and one that is surely being noticed at Winter Park.
* If that number has been noticed, the fact that the Colts defense is last in the NFL in stopping third-down conversions should be promising.
* If Moss can play Monday and get 100 yards receiving – highly unlikely at this point – he would tie Carter for the most in Vikings history with 40.
* Kevin Williams leads all NFL defensive tackles with five sacks.
* The current plan is to have Nate Burleson return punts, which could be a risky proposition if Burleson is going to start. The prospect of a national TV audience seeing a lot of Ben Nelson looms if anything should happen to Burleson on special teams.

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