3-4 or 4-3?

The Vikings turnstile of personnel is expected to continue Sunday as the team is likely to abandon its 3-4 defensive alignment in exchange for a hybrid of 3-4 and 4-3 sets -- with the 4-3 likely to win out.

The Vikings have seen changes at just about every position on the team this season, as injuries and ineffectiveness have forced several key positional changes.

Expect more of the same Sunday as not only Brad Johnson makes his first start as a Viking, but the team scratches its base 3-4 defense.

The Vikings had cut out the 4-3 alignment three weeks ago, based largely in part to injuries to Kenechi Udeze and other defensive ends that depleted depth. As a result, Kevin Williams was moved from defensive tackle to an outside end in the 3-4 defense.

The new look brought both good news and bad news. The good news was that Pat Williams, who spent most of his career in a 3-4, has thrived in the new system. The bad news is that Kevin Williams, who had double-digit sacks in his first two years under a 4-3 alignment, has been neutralized in the new system.

Hoping for a happy medium somewhere, the Vikings are expected to give rookie Erasmus James his first full game of duty this week as the team goes back to the 4-3 as its primary defense.

While it may be early to pull the plug on the 3-4, it was succesful in its first two weeks of operation, but was exposed vs. the the Panthers last week -- leaving the question of which is better for the Vikings personnel up to debate.

THURSDAY NOTES,br> * If the Vikings need an emergency quarterback, that duty will fall on WR Koren Robinson.
* While the immediate speculation after Daunte Culpepper went down for the year was to look outside the organization for a No. 2 quarterback, there are some within the team -- most importantly, Mike Tice -- that believe Shaun Hill could get the job done. In his fourth season, Hill played in NFL Europe in 2003 and led the league in passing with 2,256 yards and 13 touchdowns.
* The Lions have quarterback questions of their own. The team rushed back Jeff Garcia because of the ineffectiveness of Joey Harrington as the starter. Garcia re-injured his leg last week and is listed as a questionable on the Week 9 injury report. Harrington took all the first-team snaps on Wednesday in Lions practice.
* The Lions are expected to activate WR Charles Rogers this week after a four-week substance abuse policy violation. While he could sit another week, injuries at the position -- both Roy Williams and Mike Williams sat out much of Wednesday's practice -- will likely force the Lions' hand.
* Spencer Johnson and Dontarrious Thomas are both expected to return this week.
* Moe Williams (knee, back) is not expected to play this week, the same outlook for guard Toniu Fonoti (hand), who has practiced for the first time this week. Marcus Robinson hurt his knee in practice Wednesday and is listed as questionable. Two others -- Napoleon Harris (knee) and Fred Smoot (shoulder) -- are listed as probable and expected to play.
* The Lions may be without two of their top defenders. LB Teddy Lehman (foot) has already been ruled out and DT Shaun Rogers (knee) is listed as questionable. Cornerback Dre Bly is already out.

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