Vikings-Colts game plan

Both teams are looking for more consistent play, with the Vikings simply looking to eliminate the big plays they were giving up on defense and special teams.

VIKINGS

The Vikings defense did some good things in the opener but it must eliminate big plays. Cornerback Charles Gordon lost a one-on-one matchup against Greg Jennings on a 56-yard pass play. A gap-control breakdown led to a 57-yard run by Ryan Grant. On offense, the Vikings hope to unleash their running game against a Colts defense that gave up 183 yards rushing and a 4.7-yard average against the Bears. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had a strong first outing with 103 yards rushing and one touchdown on 19 carries.

COLTS

Just settle in and play. After sloppy performances on both sides of the football in last week's season-opening loss to the Chicago Bears, the Colts have to show more consistency in their performances.

Offensively, Indianapolis failed to take advantage of its red-zone scoring opportunities and did not run the football well. That has to get better, especially against a tough Minnesota defensive front. The Colts also have to control the tempo of the game.

Defensively, stop the run. The Vikings have one of the best running backs in the league, so it won't be easy. But slowing down Minnesota's running game is first and foremost on the Colts' defensive agenda. Also keep Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in the pocket and don't let him have any breakouts with scrambles. But, above all, get back to playing the defense the way that it was designed.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Colts DE Dwight Freeney vs. Vikings LT Artis Hicks — Hicks is filling in for suspended starter Bryant McKinnie but has an injured elbow. If he can't play, then he'll be replaced by Marcus Johnson, who got his first experience at left tackle last week.

Colts QB Peyton Manning vs. Vikings secondary: The Vikings finished last in the NFL in pass defense last season and have a rookie starting safety, Tyrell Johnson. Manning will try and take advantage of Johnson's inexperience.

Vikings DL vs. Colts OL.: The Vikings heralded defensive line got held in check by a patch-work Packers line last week. DE Jared Allen did not have a tackle or sack in his Vikings debut and vowed to play better this week.

Colts LT Tony Ugoh vs. Vikings DE Jared Allen. Ugoh is in his second season as a starter for Indianapolis. He did not play due to injury when Allen was starting for the Chiefs last year. Allen, meanwhile, led the league in sacks during the 2007 season with 15.5. He had a big game against the Colts a year ago with six tackles and four passes batted down.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson vs. Colts S Bob Sanders. Tony Dungy says that Peterson's running style reminds him of former Chicago Bears great Walter Payton and ranks him as one of the league's two best running backs (along with LaDainian Tomlinson from San Diego). Sanders was the NFL's 2007 Defensive Player of the Year and he loves to play the run. Something's gotta give.

Colts QB Peyton Manning vs. Vikings S Darren Sharper. Manning should be better, timing-wise, with his receivers with an additional week of practice after missing training camp and most of the team's preseason practices. Sharper is a veteran NFL safety who won't be too surprised by anything that the Colts try to do offensively.

INJURY IMPACT

  • LT Artis Hicks (elbow) missed most of the second half last week and is wearing a bulky brace in practice that has him listed as questionable. He faced a daunting assignment even if healthy going against Dwight Freeney.

  • RB Maurice Hicks (foot) returned to practice after missing all of last week. Hicks is listed as the No. 1 kickoff returner, but was limited Thursday and is listed as questionable.

  • QB Tarvaris Jackson remains listed on the injury report because of the sprained medial collateral ligament he suffered in his right knee during the preseason. Jackson, however, has not missed any practice time this week.

  • S Madieu Williams (neck) is not practicing and is listed as out, but he was seen on the sidelines at Friday's practice.

  • DE Dwight Freeney practiced Thursday after sitting out Wednesday's workout to rest old injuries. He will start Sunday against the Vikings.

  • WR Roy Hall (knee) has not practiced the last two days. Hall is listed as out.

  • CB Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) sat out Thursday's workout after seeing limited practice time on Wednesday. Hayden is still expected to start against the Vikings on Sunday.

  • CB Tim Jennings was allowed to sit out Thursday's practice in order to rest old injuries. Jennings should be able to play against Minnesota on Sunday.

  • DT Daniel Muir (knee) did not practice on Thursday after seeing limited work on Wednesday. However, he was listed as out.

  • OG Mike Pollak (knee) has not practiced this week and won't be able to play this week at Minnesota.

  • S Bob Sanders was given Thursday off in order to rest old injuries. Sanders will be in the starting lineup against the Vikings on Sunday.

  • TE Jacob Tamme (ankle) did not practice Thursday after seeing limited work on Wednesday and he was listed as out.

  • The Colts waived WR/KR Courtney Roby on Thursday. Roby had made the team's regular-season roster after an impressive showing as a kick returner during training camp.

  • Indianapolis claimed RB Justin Forsett on waivers from the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday.

  • The Colts added TE Isaac Smolko to the team's practice squad on Thursday. Smolko played with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.



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