Line Looking Big

With the insertion of Toniu Fonoti as the starting left guard, left tackle Bryant McKinnie smiles and talks about the possibilities, Mike Tice smiles and jokes about "the beast" and Anthony Herrera discusses the difference it could make. Plus, get historical notes and stats from the Packers-Vikings' Monday night matchups.

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who is listed as 6-foot-8 and 335 pounds, will have a new teammate next to him when Toniu Fonoti becomes the starting left guard in place of Chris Liwienksi. Fonoti is listed at 6-4, 350 pounds, but head coach Mike Tice said Friday that Fonoti is about 386 pounds right now, down from 404 pounds when the Vikings acquired him on Oct. 18 in a trade with the San Diego Chargers.

"We're probably the biggest left side in the league right now," McKinnie said. "It'll be fun."

Judging from McKinnie's height and Fonoti's thick frame (his calves look like the size of a child's neck), McKinnie's assessment might be right. But size doesn't have anything to do with communication, which is McKinnie's biggest concern with an unfamiliar player next to him.

"Just passing off the games (stunts) and stuff like that," McKinnie said.

Head coach Mike Tice said that while Fonoti is a big man, his body fat isn't bad.

"That is a big guy. We put him under water and his body fat is excellent. It is not that bad. If I told you how good it was you would die. His body fat is better than some of the other linemen we have. He is just a big guy," Tice said.

In fact, Fonoti's weight brought out a few jokes from Tice. When asked if it's really that difficult for a 386-pounder to lose a few pounds to get to a good playing weight, Tice responded with the quote of the week.

"It is like taking a deck chair off the Queen Mary, it's not that big of a deal," Tice said. "Losing twelve pounds is like the captain telling you to take a suitcase off a 747 – it is not that big of a factor."

Anthony Herrera, who was an undrafted rookie last year, is expected to back up both guard positions, but he likes what he has seen from Fonoti so far.

"He brings an aggressiveness – ‘I don't care who's across from me, I'm going to do my best to knock you out.' That's what he brings to the table," Herrera said of Fonoti.

The Fonoti vs. Pat Williams matchup in practices will be something to see in full pads, especially when Fonoti's hand is able to shed its wad of protective padding and tape.

"(Fonoti) was a second-rounder. He's been in the league for a while and Pat's been in the league for a while. I'm pretty sure he did alright," Herrera said of the matchup.

McKinnie figured it would take about six games to really become comfortable with Fonoti next him. Incidentally, if Fonoti remains the starter for three games, the draft pick the Vikings traded to San Diego will become a sixth-rounder.

Starting center Melvin Fowler may not be ready for full-time duty and Cory Withrow, who replaced Fowler in the second half of the Giants game, is expected to be at the ready. Backing up both of them will be Herrera, who had a shot at the starting center position in training camp before a staph infection in his leg hospitalized him for more than a week and sidelined him for several weeks.

With Liwienski expected to be deactivated, Herrera, who goes 6-2, 315 pounds, will be the main backup at guard.

"From two-a-days to now, they've been ripping me out at center and both guards. There's really no big difference. The biggest difference is I know I could be getting into the game."

Herrera agreed with Tice's assessment that a shoulder injury Liwienski has been dealing with since training camp has been hindering the former starter.

"With offensive linemen, your upper body is very crucial to what we do, from the hands to the shoulders to the neck. Especially a shoulder, you mess your shoulder up and that takes away from your aggressiveness. There's been a difference in him," Herrera said.

And that's what has everyone buzzing about Fonoti.


  • The Vikings, making their lone appearance of the season on "Monday Night Football," have met the Packers four times on Monday. Each team has won twice. The Packers and Vikings have played three times at Lambeau Field on Monday nights, the first coming in 1998 when the Vikings won 37-24. The other was a 26-20 overtime victory by Green Bay in 2000.

  • That 2000 victory came on what has to be considered one of the most unusual endings in MNF history. On third down, Packers quarterback Brett Favre launched a pass down the right sideline for receiver Antonio Freeman. Freeman, covered by cornerback Cris Dishman, slipped as Dishman tipped the ball. It landed on Freeman's shoulder and then his hands as he rolled on his back. Dishman had his back to the play as Freeman got up and ran 15 yards into the end zone for a game-winning, 43-yard touchdown.

  • QB Brad Johnson started his first career MNF game in 1997 against Green Bay. He has started eight total MNF games in his career, going 4-1 in the past five.

  • TE Jermaine Wiggins became the third player in NFL history to score a touchdown on MNF for two teams in a season during the 2000 campaign when he caught touchdowns for the Jets and Patriots.

  • SS Corey Chavous had the first two-interception game of his career at Green Bay on Sept. 7, 2003.

  • RB Michael Bennett, who played college football at Wisconsin, had the second 100-yard rushing day of his career when he ran for 104 yards on 25 carries at Green Bay on Dec. 30, 2001. Overall, Bennett has three of his nine career 100-yard rushing games against Green Bay, and two have come at Lambeau Field.

  • DE Lance Johnstone has three career sacks against Packers QB Brett Favre.

  • The Vikings tied a franchise record when they had four interceptions against the Packers on Jan. 9, 2005. Brian Russell, Antoine Winfield, Brian Williams and Ralph Brown had picks in the Vikings' 31-17 playoff victory.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 4 - Interceptions by former Packers and current Vikings free safety Darren Sharper over the past two games. Three of them came last Sunday in the Vikings' 24-21 victory over the New York Giants.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "The first thing I was telling someone was to make sure that I don't go to their sideline because of the fact I've been doing that for eight years. Make sure I stay on the away team's sideline. It's going to be interesting also to see the visiting team's locker room and all that." - Free safety Darren Sharper on playing his first game as a visitor at Lambeau Field after eight seasons with the Packers.

    Syndicated content contributed to the notes portion of this report.

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