Defense Ready To Stand Up

The Vikings are going to look to an old favorite to serve as their calling card in 2006 -- defense. It's been a long time since the Vikings could hang their hats on the defense to carry the load for the team, but it's become the new answer.

Back in the glory days of the Vikings, it was the Purple People Eaters defense that put people in the seats and numbers in the "W" column. In recent years, however, the Vikings have become a team predicated on offense and one that had to make up for several shortcomings on defense.

For a franchise that was once defined by defense, the Vikings consistently found themselves at or near the bottom of the defensive standings for years at a time. That lowly status has begun to change and the Vikings expect to see that come full circle this season.

When the Vikings made their comeback last season and finished with seven wins in their last nine games, it was because of defense. The Vikings only had two games in which they allowed 21 or more points and had games in which they allowed 18, 17, 16, 14, 13, 12 and 10 points.

The Vikings are a far cry from the Purple People Eaters of old, but they have taken huge steps in that direction. With the Randy Mosses and Daunte Culpeppers of the franchise's history gone, it's going to require a big effort from the defense to get the job done if the Vikings are going to return to playoff greatness. It's been a long time since we've been able to say that and mean it.

* The buzz out of Miami is that Culpepper is all but assured of starting opening day and is in the best shape he's been in since his rookie year with the Vikings.
* Think the Vikings have a lot of roster turnaround? They're not alone. Of the 704 starters in the NFL at the end of the 2005 season, 174 -- almost one in five -- are no longer with the team they started for in 2005.

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