Changes To Be Unveiled

The Vikings will be looking to make some changes to their offensive line this week, and that process likely will start today. Plus, get a player-by-player injury update and several other team notes.

The Vikings will spend the bye week trying to figure out what to do about an offensive line that has missed injured Pro Bowl center Matt Birk more than anyone could have imagined.

Rookie right guard Marcus Johnson, who was benched at various times in the first three games, remained the starter Sunday against Atlanta. He was replaced by Adam Goldberg for the second half, a change that wasn't unexpected because coach Mike Tice made it clear he wanted both to play against the Falcons.

Tice also followed through with his plan to play both Cory Withrow and Melvin Fowler at center, although Fowler was quickly pulled after only three plays because of two false start penalties on the line in the second quarter.

Tice, the Vikings' offensive line coach before taking over the team, indicated changes among the starting five remain necessary.

"I think we need to," make changes, he said. "What those changes are, there are some options. I don't believe any of the options entail bringing someone in from the outside. We have some guys that have played well. ... We need to get that inside three-part fixed and soon, because we play some good defensive fronts coming up."

Steve Loney, the Vikings' offensive coordinator and line coach, said three of the nine sacks by Atlanta against quarterback Daunte Culpepper on Sunday were the line's fault.


  • RB Moe Williams should return Oct. 16 against Chicago after hyper-extending his right knee in Week 3 against New Orleans.

  • WR Nate Burleson is continuing to receive treatment on the sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and expects to be back Oct. 16 against Chicago.

  • DE Lance Johnstone has started to lift weights and is confident he will be able to play against Chicago on Oct. 16 after missing Sunday's game at Atlanta because of a partially torn right pectoral muscle.

  • FS Darren Sharper said he is 100 percent certain he will return Oct. 16 against Chicago after missing two games because of a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

  • DE Kenechi Udeze underwent surgery Wednesday in Colorado to determine the extent of the damage to the meniscus and cartilage in his left knee. Udeze missed last Sunday's game against Atlanta after suffering the injury the previous week against New Orleans.

  • CB Brian Williams could miss his second consecutive game Oct. 16 at Chicago because of a sprained left knee. The Vikings' nickel back was injured in Week 3 against New Orleans.

  • WR Keenan Howry, the Vikings' primary punt returner in the first three games, wasn't active against Atlanta on Sunday. The Vikings used WR Koren Robinson on punt returns, the first time he has been in that role since college. Robinson muffed one punt and lost a yard on another return.

  • P Chris Kluwe continues to be a bright spot in a season that hasn't had many for the Vikings. The rookie, picked up off waivers just before the regular season to replace struggling veteran Darren Bennett, leads NFL punters with a 48.8 yard average (42.6 net) on 17 punts. He has put five balls inside the 20.

  • Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who had two stints with the Vikings, was a guest of new owner Zygi Wilf in the visiting owner's box Sunday at the Georgia Dome. Wilf, a longtime New York Giants season-ticket holder, watched Tarkenton play during his time with the Giants from 1967-71. Wilf has been using Tarkenton as a resource on football matters.

  • Wilf has scheduled a leadership retreat in the Twin Cities for the Vikings' ownership group and vice presidents this week. Bud Grant, the former Vikings coach and Hall of Famer, is among those scheduled to attend. Wilf indicated the structure of the front office will be discussed.

  • Wilf and Margaret Langfeld, the chairman of the Anoka (Minn.) County Board of Commissioners, combined on an editorial in Sunday's Minneapolis Star Tribune to push for a new Vikings stadium in that county. According to the editorial, the publicly owned retractable-roof stadium and on-site infrastructure would cost $675 million. Anoka County and the Vikings would pay $280 million apiece, and the state would sell bonds for the remaining $115 million.

  • QB Daunte Culpepper did not complete a pass to a wide receiver during Sunday's loss at Atlanta until less than 11 minutes remained in the third quarter. The completion was a 6-yarder to rookie Troy Williamson.

  • DT Kevin Williams, an All-Pro selection last season, has yet to register a sack this season and had only two tackles against Atlanta. He has 17 tackles for the season. Coach Mike Tice indicated that Williams is still working his way into shape after undergoing surgery in late February to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his right knee.

  • OLs Marcus Johnson and Bryant McKinnie pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process after Minneapolis police said they refused to leave the scene of an altercation at a gas station last week. Preliminary hearings have been scheduled for Nov. 4.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 3-0 - Mike Tice's record coming out of the bye since taking over as the Vikings' head coach.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "If I am not doing my job, then they should call for my head. Right now, I'm not doing my job because we are 1-3. I need to continue to work to do my job better. I think that is a fair answer, I think it is a fair question." - Coach Mike Tice when asked about Vikings fans calling for his firing.

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