Vikings-Browns Personnel Preview

The Vikings don't think handling Cleveland's 3-4 defense will be too much to handle. Defensively, Reuben Droughns will be the challenge.


The Vikings will face a 3-4 defense for the first time during the regular season when they play host to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at the Metrodome.

Minnesota is very familiar with the look, having used it on defense for a stretch early in the season, but the offense knows it will be a bit of an adjustment seeing it in a game. The Vikings also will go against a 3-4 team next month when they play Pittsburgh.

Quarterback Brad Johnson points out the Vikings did face two 3-4 teams in the preseason, having played the Jets and San Diego.

"We work on those things in training camp and minicamps, and you kind of play against the defense that you are going against (during practice that week)," Johnson said. "It's not a huge adjustment that you make, but they are slight.

"We have all played long enough to recognize those fronts and the things that come with it."

With three down linemen and four linebackers, the Vikings blockers will have to account for the extra linebacker and make sure that player is picked up.

"It is definitely an adjustment, but we're going to go off what the center calls, and normally the center takes us to where we need to go," running back Michael Bennett said of the protection schemes. "It's basically the same thing. You just have one extra linebacker. We'll treat them like maybe if they are out in nickel or something like that."


  • WR Koren Robinson has been named the Vikings' winner of the Ed Block Courage Award, which goes to a player on each team who represents commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. The award is voted on by teammates.

  • WR Nate Burleson, who sat out Monday night because of a variety of injuries, has been taken off the injury report and is practicing.

  • C Melvin Fowler appears to be ready to go after sitting out Monday because of a strained oblique muscle.

  • G Toniu Fonoti suffered a strained left groin in the third quarter at Green Bay and isn't expected to play Sunday against Cleveland. That would mean Anthony Herrera would get the start and Chris Liwienski, inactive last week after being demoted, would be the backup.

  • DL Spencer Johnson, inactive for five of six games because of an MCL injury in his right knee, is attempting to practice. The Vikings should know this week whether Johnson's return anytime soon is a realistic possibility.


    The most pleasant surprise for the Browns this season has been running back Reuben Droughns.

    Droughns is 132 yards away from ending the NFL's longest streak of rushing futility. The Browns have not a 100-yard rusher since 1985, when Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner both topped 1,000.

    Droughns' 166 yards against Miami ignited the offense and helped pave the way to the team's first easy win of the year a 22-0 rout.

    "Running backs get into that groove," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said.

    Droughns has been the offense's most consistent and best player all year long. Even Crennel admitted the coaching staff might have been a little slow to recognize what it had.

    "Anytime you bring a new player in, you don't know exactly what you have," Crennel said. "Maybe there might have been a learning curve."


  • QB Trent Dilfer did not take back his complaints about Charlie Frye replacing him for a few series against Miami, but his words had a different feel. Dilfer said part of his job is to go along with things, indicating he may have just had a bad day when he complained.

  • G Joe Andruzzi probably will miss his second game in a row due to knee and calf injuries. Andruzzi's knee has bothered him since training camp.

  • G Mike Pucillo replaced injured Joe Andruzzi and did well. Pucillo has now played both guard spots the last two weeks.

  • G Cosey Coleman is listed as questionable on the weekly injury report because his sprained MCL is still sore. Coleman gutted it out against Miami and probably will do the same in Minnesota.

  • WR Braylon Edwards now seems to be a regular part of the offense. Edwards' six catches for 90 yards led the Browns against Miami, and his role seems to grow each week.

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