Vikings-Bears Game Plan

Adrian Peterson gets his first action under the lights of Monday Night Football while the Bears haven't been effective running the ball lately. Get that angle and several intriguing matchups to watch as the Vikings and Bears collide for another NFC North collision.


The last time these teams met, rookie running back Adrian Peterson rushed for a then-team record 224 yards in a 34-31 victory over the Bears on Oct. 14. There is no doubt this will be fresh in the minds of Chicago players on Monday.

The question is, can they do anything about the Vikings' NFL-leading rushing attack that is averaging 172.2 yards per game? Peterson had a career-low three yards rushing last Sunday at San Francisco and will be looking to prove that was nothing more than a fluke.

As if that isn't enough motivation, this will be Peterson's first appearance under the lights of "Monday Night Football."

Although the Vikings beat the Bears in their first meeting, this is a much-improved Minnesota team. Tarvaris Jackson has settled in at quarterback, meaning if Chicago focuses on the running game of Peterson and Chester Taylor, it could open up things for a guy like rookie receiver Sidney Rice to make an impact.

On defense, the Vikings remain next to impossible to run against. That means Kyle Orton, who will be making his first start since the 2005 season, will be called upon to have success through the air against the NFL's worst passing defense.

The problem is that while the Vikings are still giving up some yards through the air, they have found a formula of blitzing and coverage that has limited the damage during a four-game winning streak. Orton can expect to see a few exotic blitz packages designed to exploit his long layoff.


The Bears like to talk a good game when it comes to running the ball, but they've thrown 97 passes in the past two games in addition to being sacked eight more times. They've thrown 40 or more passes in six of the previous 10 weeks, and that could be their best bet against the league's best run defense.

This time around, the Bears will sell out to avoid the embarrassment of allowing 311 rushing yards.


Vikings FB Tony Richardson vs. Bears MLB Brian Urlacher. Richardson will be asked to lead the way for Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor coming out of the backfield. That means Richardson should get plenty of opportunities to lay blocks on Urlacher, who is known for his outstanding athletic ability and the fact he is so adept at dropping into coverage. Considering the strength of the Vikings run game, however, Urlacher likely will have to remain closer to the line of scrimmage than normal. It is on those occasions that he will find Richardson coming at him.

Vikings RT Ryan Cook vs. Bears DE Adewale Ogunleye. Cook was frequently written about in this spot earlier this season because of his inexperience and the fact so many defensive ends appeared to be mismatches for him. But Cook has matured as the season has progressed and while he still has a ways to go, the former college center certainly can't be considered a liability. That being said, the Bears' Ogunleye will provide a tough matchup. He has nine sacks this season and it's likely Cook will get chipping help from a tight end.

Vikings LB Chad Greenway vs. Bears TE Desmond Clark. Greenway is another player who has made strides this season — remember, Greenway did not play in his rookie year in 2006 because of a knee injury — but it would not be surprising if the Bears tried to get Clark on Greenway a few times Monday. Clark has 41 catches and three touchdowns this season and would provide new starter Kyle Orton with a chance to complete some high-percentage passes.


For the Vikings, Rookie Brian Robison will continue to get the majority of the snaps at right end with Ray Edwards suspended for the remainder of the regular season and Erasmus James out because of a knee injury. Others in the mix include Otis Grigsby and Jayme Mitchell, who actually played at left end on Sunday. That meant Kenechi Udeze would shift to the right side.

At receiver, it's likely Aundrae Allison will remain active in place of Troy Williamson. Allison also has replaced Williamson on kickoff returns and appears far more comfortable in that role.

For the Bears, CB Nate Vasher (groin) practiced on a limited basis but said his chances of playing for the first time in 11 weeks are "slim to none."

DT Tommie Harris (knee) did not practice Thursday, although he is expected to play Monday.

DT Darwin Wwalker (elbow) did not practice Thursday and is probably questionable at best for Monday night.

LB Hunter Hillenmeyer (shoulder) was back at practice after sitting out on Tuesday.

DL Israel Idonije, normally a backup swingman more comfortable at end, is expected to see increased playing time at the 3-technique Monday night, since he is the only healthy tackle on the roster who has played in a game this season.

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