Notebook: What? No Pat Smack Talk?

Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Pat Williams is usually as confident and outspoken as they come, but this week he had nothing but praise for the Cowboys offensive line he will be facing.

From his previous war of words with Chicago center Olin Kreutz to his usual, "It don't matter. I just blow people up" kind of answers, Pat Williams usually says what he has to say with confidence and backs up his words with his Pro Bowl play on the field.

This week, however, was different. Pat Williams was actually insightful on the opposing people he will be staring down on Sunday.

"That's probably the biggest offensive line we'll face all year. Their left guard I think is their smallest guy," Williams said.

That left guard is Kyle Kosier, a 6-foot-5, 294-pounder who is probably the least known along the Dallas line. Left tackle Flozell Adams (6-7, 340) is coming off his third Pro Bowl selection, center Andre Gurode (6-4, 316) has also been to the Pro Bowl, right guard Leonard Davis (6-6, 354) was the second overall draft pick of the Cardinals in 2001, and right tackle Marc Colombo (6-8, 315) is back after starting all 16 games for the first time in his career.

Despite sizing up Kosier as the smallest of the group, Williams said he will remain over center as usual and probably continue to accept the double teams.

"I'm on the center all the time and I'm double-teamed all the time. I talked to a couple guys after the (Chicago) game and they said that was the game plan to double me on every play, but that's all good though," Williams said.

The Cowboys returned four of their five starting linemen from last year, when the team scored 425 points (26.6 per game), the fourth-most in the NFL last year and the most by the franchise since their 1995 Super Bowl season. That experience and production could mean that the Dallas offensive line might not have to make the commitment to double-team both Pat and Kevin Williams like Chicago did much of the time.

"From day one when we walk on the field people are doubling (Kevin) quite a bit. I am sure it won't change this week although, they have some pretty big offensive linemen, so you'd think they would single, but he gets a lot of double teams and so does Pat," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said.

"They've got a lot of weapons over there," Pat Williams said. "The guys up front are pretty big, so they'll try to run the ball and we'll have our hands full. Those guys up front, they ain't no small guys."

Maybe his new contract has taken some of the smack talk out of Pat, but it's clear he respects the opponent this week.

WADE'S WORLD

Pat Williams and Antoine Winfield both played for Cowboys coach Wade Phillips when he was coach of the Buffalo Bills. Vikings linebacker Ben Leber also played for Phillips when he was the defensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers.

"Wade is a laid-back coach. He's always been like that. He was in San Diego and I've got friends in Dallas, DeMarcus Ware, all of them say he's a laid-back guy, just like he's always been," said Williams.

But a laid-back personality doesn't always mean a laid-back scheme.

"They like to blitz. They like to go get them. It's the same style like when I played with the Bills," Williams said.

SECOND-HALF HORROR

Tony Romo is already tied for third in Cowboys history with seven 300-yard passing performances, trailing franchise all-time leader Troy Aikman by six games. Through the first six games of the 2007 season, the Cowboys are second in the NFL with 33.8 points per game.

They have weapons all over on offense, but Romo has been the catalyst with 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions despite one very flawed five-interception game against the Buffalo Bills, which the Cowboys still won.

Romo has a 93.5 passer rating overall and already has 1,707 yards, but he's been especially good in the second half. That's when he has passed for 12 of his 15 touchdowns and only three of his nine interceptions. That's led him to a second-place ranking behind only Tom Brady as the highest rated passer in the second half of games this year. Brady has a 135.8 rating while Romo is at 119.9.

"They're just making plays. If you think about the Buffalo game, he threw a few picks, but in the fourth quarter, they were a veteran team," Winfield said. "A lot of guys have played in this league a long time and have experience, and when it comes down to it they have the experience to make the plays and win the games."

While Romo has taken only eight sacks on the season, Winfield believes he is a quarterback that can be sacked more often.

"He will give you an opportunity to get sacks on him. He'll hold the ball sometimes and let his receivers maneuver and try to get open. We kind of put him in a category with Brett Favre. Brett will move and throw it up, and he'll take chances like that to give his receivers to make a play on it," Winfield said.

Romo indicated that, despite his success throwing the ball this season, the Cowboys will still try to establish their 11th-ranked rushing offense against the Vikings' second-ranked rush defense.

"You always want to establish the run. I don't care how long you have played this game, in my opinion if you don't go into games trying to run, then you have already given the advantage to the defense," Romo said. "I think every game we go in we are going to try and be balanced and go out there and do the things we've got to do. We'll kind of take it from there and see how the game goes, but you definitely want to establish it."

NICKEL PAT?

Leber has been receiving attention this week after the coaching staff reiterated that they want to find ways to get him in the game more often. Previously, when the Vikings employed their nickel defense, the linebacker was replaced with cornerback Marcus McCauley. However, they have been looking to have Leber – who on Sunday had his first career game with an interception and a sack– take over some of the nickel packages in which fellow linebacker Chad Greenway has been playing.

"Ben is a guy who is a playmaker," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "You see it when he is in regular down and distances. He gives us a lot from an experience standpoint, just a very savvy veteran and you feel like you are missing some plays when he is not out there. Not that Chad does a bad job, it's just the experience factor matters. Chad can run very well. He is a tremendous athlete, but experience makes a difference."

But the Vikings would also like to see Pat Williams get more snaps. He has been averaging 35 to 40 snaps per game, he said, compared to 60 or 70 for some other defenders. When teams spread out the Vikings defense with three or more wide receivers, Williams is usually coming out of the game when Leber was and that creates another issue for the Vikings.

"They know if they pass a lot, we'll have to take Pat out and then if they draw it on us, it's against smaller guys," said Williams, who said his (listed) 317-pound frame can handle more game action.

"I'm fine. I enjoy myself out there. That's just what I do," he said.


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