A day after a news conference full of questions about what happened during an outing by several players on two chartered boats last week, coach Mike Tice attempted to turn things back toward football.
"I don't want to talk about it," Tice said, when asked what might happen if a player is found to be linked to the allegations. "I'll talk about the Bears. I'm sorry, but if I don't focus on the Bears, how are the guys going to focus on the Bears?
"We had a day (Wednesday) where we dealt with questions. If people know me they know how I feel about it. If they don't, they haven't been listening for four years and they haven't been paying attention. We'll figure out everything when the time comes."
This, of course, is easier said than done. The fact of the matter is that an ongoing police investigation into allegations of prostitution and lewd behavior on the boats has caused a season's worth of turmoil for the 1-3 Vikings as they try to get ready for Sunday's game in Chicago.
Players have been instructed not to talk about whether they were involved in the outing or what might have happened, but that hasn't stopped it from being a major focus.
"If I'm going to sit here and tell you the team is not distracted, I'd be lying to you," Tice said. "I think the one thing I have been consistent with over the four years is not lying. Of course this is not the greatest way to prepare for a football game, but it is what we are dealing with right now, and we'll deal with it appropriately and battle our way through it."
The situation appears to have taken a large toll on cornerback Fred Smoot, who has been singled out by the charter company as one of the players who organized the event.
Smoot said Wednesday he was going to take legal action against the person that named him. Smoot's agent, Bus Cook, confirmed his client's options were being examined. Smoot appeared tired as he walked to his car Thursday and said he was still looking into a lawsuit.
Asked for further comment, he said, "I'm done with the media."
Not exactly the perfect mind frame for what the Vikings will have to consider a must-win game.
The Bears aren't changing their defensive personnel this week, but they're hoping the same players will perform better than they did last week.
"We're going to get the guys that we have at the top of the depth chart better," coach Lovie Smith said. "For about 55 minutes we played good defense (in the 20-10 loss to the Browns), and we play good defense throughout, so we don't need an overhaul of our defense. We just need to learn how to finish the job, which we'll do."
Rookie free safety Chris Harris remains in the starting lineup despite letting Antonio Bryant get behind him for a 33-yard touchdown that erased the Bears' 10-6 lead last week. That leaves veteran Mike Green on the bench. Green has started 43 games since 2001, including all 16 in 2002 and ‘04, but he was benched after the season opener. The coaching staff remains committed to Harris, a sixth-round pick who had three tackles last week.
"He (Harris) has a better feel for the game back there," defensive backs coach Perry Fewell said. "Chris made a rookie mistake. He had a rookie mistake and it wasn't all Chris on that particular play. We ask certain people to do certain things to help him on that play, but the ultimate responsibility came down to him. He had one bad play out of ... he's started three games for us. So he's really doing a nice job for us."
Cornerback Charles Tillman also remains in the starting lineup, although he has been burned for four touchdown passes in the past three games.
Fewell said a great deal of thought has gone into the defensive personnel since the Browns scored on 33- and 28-yard TD passes within a 38-second span in the final 3:02 Sunday.
"I've thought about it since Sunday night," Fewell said. "I thought about it at 3 o'clock in the morning, at 4 o'clock in the morning. I just said, ‘Hey, we've got the best people on the field.' We just have to be more disciplined for 60 minutes, that's all. It's discipline for 60 minutes, not 58 minutes or not 56 minutes."