Defensive Questions Still Around

While the Vikings appeared to have solved their most obvious deficiencies on defense and special teams in 2005, there are still some questions that remain. We take a look at the strong and the questionable performances from players on defense and special teams.

NT Pat Williams, a free agent pickup from Buffalo, was deserving of a trip to the Pro Bowl but somehow went overlooked. Williams was a force in the middle throughout the season and often made running up the middle nearly impossible.

DT Kevin Williams was a disappointment. Coming off off-season knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, Williams reported to training camp out of shape and never regained his 2004 form. He finished with only four sacks in 14 games after having 11 1/2 in 2004 and 22 over the previous two seasons.

DE Darrion Scott, in his second season, played in every game and proved reliable at left end. His 80 tackles were second on the team among linemen behind Pat Williams.

DE Erasmus James missed the first part of training camp before signing and had plenty to learn when he arrived. He eventually took Udeze's starting spot and used his quickness to finish with four sacks and 17 quarterback hurries. James' speed should help him thrive in the Tampa Bay-style Cover-2 defense the Vikings will use under new defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.

S Darren Sharper, released by the Green Bay Packers during the off-season after an injury-plagued 2004 came, within one of the Vikings' single-season record for interceptions, finishing with nine. The 30-year-old earned his third trip to the Pro Bowl.

CB Antoine Winfield contributed four interceptions and also finished second on the team with 100 tackles.

CB Brian Williams replaced Fred Smoot as a starter when Smoot broke his collarbone in early November against Detroit. Although Smoot was able to return after missing four games, he could not regain his starting spot. Williams will be an unrestricted free agent this off-season and figures to draw interest on the market.

CB Fred Smoot was replaced by Brian Williams a starter when Smoot broke his collarbone in early November against Detroit. Although Smoot was able to return after missing four games, he could not regain his starting spot because Williams played so well. Smoot was unhappy with the decision and was benched for the final game of the season after missing curfew on New Year's Eve.

SS Corey Chavous is an unrestricted free agent and is almost certain to walk away. Unhappy with his contract entering the season, he had two interceptions, and he took the nameplate off his locker before leaving Winter Park after the season.

WR Koren Robinson, never used as a kick returner in his first four seasons with Seattle, was elected to the Pro Bowl at that spot after leading the NFC and finishing fifth in the NFL with a 26.0-yard return average. He also had a touchdown return in an upset victory over the New York Giants.

P Chris Kluwe was plucked from Seattle just before the season began and finished with a 35.8 net average and 44.1 gross average. Kluwe's numbers declined late in the season after he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right (punting) knee but continued to play.

K Paul Edinger joined the Vikings as a free agent after five seasons in Chicago. The main question mark surrounding him was his ability on kickoffs. Edinger made three game-winners and his kickoffs were acceptable. His biggest struggles came on field-goal attempts from 30 to 39 yards, where he hit only three of eight attempts. He was 11-for-11 from 20 to 29 yards, 8-for-10 from 40 to 49 yards and 3-for-5 from 50-plus yards.

PR Mewelde Moore was second in the NFC and third in the NFL among punt returners with an 11.7-yard average. He had a return for a touchdown against the Giants.

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