Brien In the Hot Seat This Weekend

Leave it to a kicker to blame the media for his problems. So it is that Doug Brien keeps Beekin's Van Line on speed dial this weekend.

Following Thursday night's loss in which he didn't get a chance to redeem himself, kicker Doug Brien took a shot at the media -- saying we're responsible for his problems by constantly asking Mike Tice about whether the team should keep Brien or go another direction -- possibly former kicker Gary Anderson.

Brien said he "won't sleep well Saturday" and that it is the result of constant speculation to bring back the popular Anderson even if it means burning an extra roster spot to hire a kickoff specialist at league minimum.

In his defense, Brien has made 80 percent of his field goals during his NFL career. Unfortunately, he has missed 80 percent of his kicks with the Vikings and, when the situation presented itself to try a 53-yarder at Pittsburgh last night, the Vikes opted to punt.

At VU, we're hearing the Brien isn't penned on the final roster, but likely will have a good chance to remain with the team. Yet, if Tice gets a wild hair between now and Sunday, it could be the end of the Vikings life of Brien.

FRIDAY NOTES
* The funeral for Rakiva Kelly, the wife of OT Lewis Kelly who died earlier this week from a rare blood disorder, will be today. Mike Tice and several players are expected to attend.
* Let the Randy Ratio talk continue. Of the 16 passes thrown by Daunte Culpepper last night, nine of them -- 56.3 percent -- were directed at Moss. Those who disbelieve the Randy Ratio may have another guess coming.
* With the signing of Ryan Sims, the contract for Bryant McKinnie has been "boxed" -- according to NFL language. With Sims (taken ahead of McKinnie on draft day) and Roy Williams (taken immediately behind him) both signed, the numbers for McKinnie's deal are pretty well established. The Vikings still contend that the guaranteed portion of Williams' deal is out of line with rookie salary cap procedures, but, considering that the Vikings won't cut McKinnie in his first three years, what's the difference how much of the money is guaranteed? His holdout is now in its 35th day and VU has been told that, for talks to resume, McKinnie's agents are going to have to contact the team -- the Vikings won't pick up the phone and dial them anymore.
* After seeing the first-team defense hold opponents to converting just three of 17 third downs in the first three games, the Steelers converted five of seven vs. the first-team defense in the first half.
* The special teams in general have been a disaster during the preseason, and Thursday was no exception. On the opening kickoff, the Vikings surrendered a 37-yard return and dug themselves an early hole.
* With the defensive stop in the first quarter on a fourth-down play, it was the third game that the first-team defense made a stuff on a fourth-down call. As a team, the Vikings have allowed opponents to convert just one of seven fourth-down attempts.
* Daunte Culpepper was sacked for the first time all preseason when brought down by the Steelers' Joey Porter Thursday. Coming off knee surgery, the Vikings were hoping Culpepper could avoid getting harassed in the backfield, and just one sack in four games was just what the doctor ordered.

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