Game Scout: Vikings vs. Falcons

Get the series standing, keys to the game, fast facts and personnel news as the Vikings and Falcons get set to square off in their openers Sunday.


Sunday
Atlanta Falcons (0-0) at Minnesota Vikings (0-0)
Carolina Panthers (0-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-0)
Denver Broncos (0-0) at Buffalo Bills (0-0)
Kansas City Chiefs (0-0) at Houston Texans (0-0)
Miami Dolphins (0-0) at Washington Redskins (0-0)
New England Patriots (0-0) at New York Jets (0-0)
Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) at Green Bay Packers (0-0)
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-0)
Tennessee Titans (0-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0)
Chicago Bears (0-0) at San Diego Chargers (0-0)
Detroit Lions (0-0) at Oakland Raiders (0-0)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) at Seattle Seahawks (0-0)
New York Giants (0-0) at Dallas Cowboys (0-0)
Baltimore Ravens (0-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-0)
Arizona Cardinals (0-0) at San Francisco 49ers (0-0)

Atlanta Falcons (0-0) at Minnesota Vikings (0-0)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 9/9/07
SURFACE: Artificial
TV: FOX, Ron Pitts, Tony Boselli, Dawn Mitchell
SERIES: 23rd meeting. Vikings lead series, 14-8. The Falcons have won the past two games at Minnesota, both of which went to overtime. The most notable meeting came in 1999, when Atlanta advanced to the Super Bowl with a 30-27 victory in OT.

KEYS TO THE GAME

New Falcons coach Bobby Petrino has scrapped the zone-blocking, run-heavy offense, which is a good thing against a run defense that allowed just 61.6 yards per game last season. QB Joey Harrington will focus on quick passes to move the chains, then try to stretch the defense with rookie Laurent Robinson a likely deep target against the Vikings' shaky secondary.

The Vikings want to protect QB Tarvaris Jackson making just his third career start. It will be interesting to see how they split carries between RBs Chester Taylor and rookie Adrian Peterson. But Jackson is going to have to move the ball a bit through the air to keep the Falcons honest, and Atlanta FS Jimmy Williams might be making his first career start at the position.

KEY INJURIES

Falcons: RB Warrick Dunn (back) will start; Crocker (bone bruise, knee) would be replaced by Williams if he can't play.

Vikings: WR Bobby Wade (ankle) will play.

FAST FACTS

Petrino will make his NFL head coaching debut. ... The Vikings are 6-0 all-time against the Falcons in September.

PERSONNEL NEWS

Falcons

  • FS Chris Crocker missed practice again Thursday, which all but officially means Jimmy Williams will start Sunday at Minnesota. Crocker has not practiced since suffering a bone bruise during the Aug. 27 exhibition against Cincinnati.

  • Rookie CB Chris Houston is expected to be used at cornerback in the nickel package. Starter Lewis Sanders will be moved inside to nickel back, where he will replace Crocker, who was the nickel back.

  • WR Roddy White will start at wide receiver opposite Joe Horn against the Vikings. White replaces Michael Jenkins, who has been moved inside to the slot receiver. Jenkins seemed to be gaining traction on his career last seasons (39 catches, 7 touchdowns) but White is a better outside fit in the new offensive scheme brought in by Bobby Petrino and his staff.

  • Rookie DT Trey Lewis (Washburn) will be the top backup at both defensive tackle spots. Lewis has worked at nose tackle and at the "3 technique" spot in preseason and was very effective at both spots.

  • Rookie G Justin Blalock, despite receiving praise for his production since the first mini camp, needs to get physically stronger and be more explosive at the initial point of attack, coach Bobby Petrino said.

    Vikings

  • S Mike Doss missed another day of practice Thursday because of a calf injury and is listed as out Sunday against Atlanta.

  • LB Vinny Ciurciu was limited for a second consecutive day as the team continues to be cautious with the broken finger on his left hand.

  • WR Robert Ferguson also was limited again because of an ankle injury.

  • Guard Artis Hicks will make the start on the right side in favor of Anthony Herrera.

  • Ryan Cook will start at RT on Sunday; Marcus Johnson, who has been competing for the job, missed Thursday's practice to tend to personal matters.

  • QB Brooks Bollinger is listed second on the depth chart for Sunday's game ahead of newcomer Kelly Holcomb. It's expected that Holcomb eventually will inherit the backup job once he gets up to speed on the Vikings offense.


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