Undermanned D-Line Faces Challenge

The Vikings face a tough challenge to try to slow down the high-powered Falcons running game. But they may be doing it with the slenderist of margins for error.

One of the aspects of the Vikings that head coach Mike Tice has hung his hat on has been depth. On draft weekend, he said he would look to package picks for a trade because there simply weren't going to be enough roster spots available.

Heading into today's game, the depth at defensive line will be tested. With Kenechi Udeze out and Lance Johnstone a likely candidate for de-activation Sunday, Tice admits his D-line is as thin as it has ever been.

"There could be a chance that we go into this game with six defensive linemen," Tice told VU.

Even before the injuries, the Vikings listed Spencer Johnson as their top backup at three of the four line positions. The rotation for Sunday's game will include Kevin and Pat Williams at tackle, Darrion Scott and Erasmus James at end, rookie C.J. Mosley as the only backup tackle and Johnson filling in wherever he's needed -- which might be all four positions before the game is over.

Heading into a game in which your opponent wants to run 40 times or more, having a lack of depth on the D-line could be the critical difference. If eight D-linemen got worn out by the Bucs in the opener, what will six do against a team armed and dangerous on the ground?

* One of the unsung keys to last week's Vikings win was shutting down the Saints on third down -- they converted just 2-of-12 attempts. With the Falcons looking to run often, there will be numerous third-down situations. If the Vikings can maintain the success they had last week, they could put the pressure on the Falcons to pass more.
* No Vikings game this year has been decided by less than 11 points.
* The Vikings come into today's game with the 17th ranked offense and 28th ranked defense. The Falcons come in with the 22nd rated offense and 16th ranked defense.
* The Vikings are 7-3 in the month of October under Tice.
* Atlanta is the only team in the NFL with three players with more than 100 rushing yards -- Warrick Dunn (268), Vick (175) and T.J. Duckett (108). The Vikings come into the game with the 30th-ranked rushing defense.
* Daunte Culpepper's passer rating went up from 41.6 to 64.8 with his performance last week.
* The Falcons defense has allowed two rushers -- Shaun Alexander and Willis McGahee -- to rush for 140 yards or more in the last two games.
* Vick's 173 yards rushing in his only game vs. the Vikings still stands as a single-game NFL record for quarterbacks.
* Tickets for the 10th Annual Vikings NFL Workshop go on sale at 9 a.m. Monday. The workshop, which will be conducted from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5 at Winter Park, is intended to educate fans on the behind the scenes work that is done during a typical practice week during the regular season. Tickets are $45 and available by calling the Vikings ticket office at 612-33-VIKES.

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