The Vikings' linebacker corps has continued to be a sore spot for the team this season, as they continue to search for the right combination of players. But one of the constants had been the play of Keith Newman, who coaches found hard to keep out of the lineup.
They may have finally found a way. Newman suffered what the team is calling a strained left posterior collateral ligament -- the same injury that put Nate Burleson on the shelf for nearly a month. Newman is scheduled to have an MRI to confirm the diagnosis and, if as serious as feared, he will likely miss the next two games.
Newman said after the game that the injury was feeling better, but added that today would be the true test of the severity.
Coach Mike Tice will likely address the matter today at his weekly Monday recap press conference at Winter Park.
* The combination of the Vikings' win and the Lions' loss means the team is guaranteed of finishing no worse than second place in the NFC North. Why is that important? It clears up who the Vikings' 2006 opponents will be. Aside from the six games played vs. the division and the four vs. the AFC, the Vikings now know that in 2006 they will play the four teams from the NFC West along with everyone else and, in their two games different from the rest in their division, they will play the second-place finishers this year in both the NFC East and NFC South.
* Tice and Mewelde Moore appeared at odds following Sunday's game. Tice said Moore was benched in favor of Michael Bennett because the medical staff told Tice that Moore wasn't in what Tice termed as "mental shape" to play with a quadriceps injury. He backed up that assertion by saying players who want to get in the game typically stand around the coach waiting to get their number called. On an occasion when Tice said he looked for Moore, he was nowhere to be found. Moore denied the claim and said the injury had loosened up in warmups and he was good to go.
* Former Viking Greg Coleman appeared to take his sideline job with the team pretty seriously Sunday. Coleman, who provides sideline commentary for the Vikings radio network, was standing directly in front of a play in which the Rams were initially granted a completion on a pass that clearly hit the ground. The first official ruled the play a catch and Coleman immediately took off down the Vikings sideline seeking out Tice, apparently to tell him to throw the red challenge flag. By the time he got there, another official with a better vantage point had stepped in and overruled the call and said the pass was incomplete. Red McCombs may no longer own the team, but his radio employees still know where the bread is buttered.
* Brad Johnson rolled his right ankle in the third quarter but played the rest of the game. The Rams blitzed Johnson on about 70 percent of plays Sunday in hopes of getting him rattled. Although he took several big hits, he was never sacked.
* Fred Smoot returned to action Sunday, but didn't wear the protective harness on his healing broken collarbone. Why? He said in warmups he couldn't breathe properly because of the tight-fitting harness and felt more comfortable going without it than with it. Smoot had an interception in the second half Sunday (but, then again, who didn't?).
* Fans reacted angrily at times to punter Darren Bennett, who had eight punts Sunday -- almost three punts above average for the Vikes. Bennett was booed loudly after a couple of awful looking punts. He averaged 37.5 yards per punt -- the same average as kicker Paul Edinger in two tries the previous week. Chris Kluwe is expected back this week.
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