Line faces challenge in versatile Haynesworth

The Vikings have faced their share of talented defensive ends this season, and will again this Sunday, but the way the Titans use defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is unique to Tennessee. Plus, see who is returning to practice and who is learning on the fly with more notes and quotes from Winter Park.

Vikings coach Brad Childress hasn't used the "Where's Waldo" analogy he references from time to time, but the way the Tennessee Titans move defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth is unique and could cause some issues for Minnesota's offensive line when it visits Tennessee on Sunday.

Despite Haynesworth's size – he is listed at 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, but Childress seems to think that could be underestimating the size of the man – the Titans move Haynesworth around in a way that is unique to them, according to Childress and left tackle Artis Hicks.

"When they go nickel defense, which is third down – third and probably 5 yards plus – they switch him and (defensive end Kyle) Vanden Bosch. Vanden Bosch goes into three-technique and he goes outside to defensive end," said Hicks, a seventh-year offensive lineman who said this is the first time he's seen it done where the end and tackle switch. "I think it's just to test the guard and see if he can handle a quick guy – Vanden Bosch is a little quicker guy, and it tests the tackles with the bull rush because Haynesworth is a big, heavy, strong guy."

And still quick enough to handle the responsibilities of a defensive end.

"He's the total package. He's like a Kevin Williams, just bigger. They are two different types of players and they have two different types of games. But they're both athletic," said guard Anthony Herrera. "It's unusual to see someone as big as he is as athletic as he is. He's extremely large and he's extremely athletic. It's unusual to see that."

Herrera should know all about Haynesworth. The two came to the University of Tennessee together, but Haynesworth left after three years. Herrera sees many of the same things in his former teammate now that he saw practicing against him then, but Haynesworth has matured, according to Herrera.

"He understands the game better, he understands how to work better," Herrera said. "He's always been strong. Exactly what you see now is what you saw then."

Haynesworth enters this weekend second among NFL defensive tackles with three sacks. Former Viking Fred Robbins, now with the New York Giants, leads the way while Minnesota's Kevin Williams has two.

Hicks' own versatility on the offensive line should help him as well. He has faced defensive tackles when playing guard and he has faced defensive ends while playing tackle. Now, he'll likely be facing a defensive tackle while playing offensive tackle.

Hicks actually has some experience playing against Haynesworth, but that also dates back to college, when Haynesworth was at Tennessee and Hicks at Memphis.

"From the way it looks, he's more of heavy penetrator, much like Shaun Rogers was, or he still is with the Browns – that was a guy that was in the division. And Kevin (Williams) is more of an all-around guy," Hicks said when asked if Haynesworth is comparable to Williams. "Kevin has more of a pass-rush move; he's a great run-stopper too. I think Haynesworth is just a big, solid, strong guy who's just going to clog the middle up.

"He's very talented, but Kevin to me has a little bit more pass-rush skills."

Herrera thinks Hicks' strengths as a versatile offensive lineman will suit him well against Haynesworth.

"It will be a little bit better for him to go against a guy that is a buller instead of quick moves," Herrera said.

FORMER LION ON MILLEN

Safety Eric Frampton spent the first half of the 2007 season as a Detroit Lion before the Vikings claimed him off waivers, which probably makes him the Viking with the greatest knowledge of former Detroit general manager Matt Millen, who was removed from his duties on Wednesday.

"He was a cool guy. He brought me in there and I really enjoyed talking with him. He's a good guy. He treated me with respect," Frampton said of Millen.

Frampton said one of the personnel guys in Detroit told him of his release last October, but he said Millen was a hands-on guy with the team.

PATCHING ON SPECIAL TEAMS

The Vikings avoided losing their top two special teams players from last year for all of 2008 when it was revealed earlier this week that linebacker Vinny Ciurciu's knee injury wasn't as a serious as it appeared. Ciurciu finished tied for second last year with 15 special teams tackles, and the Vikings had already lost their special teams leader from last year, linebacker Heath Farwell (who had 32 tackles in 2007), for the season to a preseason knee injury.

Antoine Winfield, David Herron and Husain Abdullah are all tied for the lead with three special teams tackles so far this year. Frampton is tied for fourth with two and said he would have tried to continue to be a special teams leader with or with Ciurciu, whose status for Sunday's game is uncertain.

"I see every opportunity to become a leader on special teams when I'm out there, whether it's making tackles or making a block. Whether Vinny's here or Heath is here, I'm going to let my work do all the talking," Frampton said. "I'm going to continue to try to establish myself as a leader in everything that I do. (I'll) just keep doing what I've been doing. It doesn't really change my game. I'm just always striving for the best."

Said Abdullah: "We all race to get tackles or protect on punt or kickoff. We all just try to fly down and get tackles, so it's still the same opportunity."

NOTES

  • Safety Madieu Williams returned to practice Thursday in at least a limited role for the first time since injuring his neck early in training camp. Williams had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday, according to head coach Brad Childress, so he presumably got good news on that front. Williams has declined several interview requests over the past two weeks, but his return to practice might change that.

  • Herrera, whose wife is from Tennessee, said he will need about 20 tickets for the game.

  • Rookie safety Tyrell Johnson said teams have begun targeting him more now than they did in his first game as a starter filling in for Williams.

    "I think early on I wasn't targeted. But now I'm starting to be a little bit more of a target. But I think I'm handling it fairly well. A few mishaps here and there, but I think overall I'm doing really well," said Johnson, who added that he's been getting better at studying opponents.

    "It's been a blessing to go out there and actually start as a rookie. Playing at Lambeau Field, it's very special. I'll look back on it later on in life and it's really going to hit me then."

    Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said Johnson has performed above expectations while filling in for the injured Madieu Williams.

    "He's seeing different offenses and they're doing different things to attack him as well as our defense. It's good exposure for him. His composure, his poise, has really been outstanding and he is a very good athlete. You combine that and you've just got to believe that one day he's just going to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player," Frazier said.

  • Wide receiver Bernard Berrian, who caught a team-best 48-yard pass from Gus Frerotte last week, said the opportunities to connect on long pass plays was there before Frerotte made his first start in Week 3.

    "We've had opportunities before, we just haven't landed them. The biggest thing is we go out and execute and land those plays," Berrian said.



  • Viking Update Top Stories

    ","mobileBody":"Vikings coach Brad Childress hasn't used the \"Where's Waldo\" analogy he references from time to time, but the way the Tennessee Titans move defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth is unique and could cause some issues for Minnesota's offensive line when it visits Tennessee on Sunday.

    Despite Haynesworth's size – he is listed at 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, but Childress seems to think that could be underestimating the size of the man – the Titans move Haynesworth around in a way that is unique to them, according to Childress and left tackle Artis Hicks.

    \"When they go nickel defense, which is third down – third and probably 5 yards plus – they switch him and (defensive end Kyle) Vanden Bosch. Vanden Bosch goes into three-technique and he goes outside to defensive end,\" said Hicks, a seventh-year offensive lineman who said this is the first time he's seen it done where the end and tackle switch. \"I think it's just to test the guard and see if he can handle a quick guy – Vanden Bosch is a little quicker guy, and it tests the tackles with the bull rush because Haynesworth is a big, heavy, strong guy.\"

    And still quick enough to handle the responsibilities of a defensive end.

    \"He's the total package. He's like a Kevin Williams, just bigger. They are two different types of players and they have two different types of games. But they're both athletic,\" said guard Anthony Herrera. \"It's unusual to see someone as big as he is as athletic as he is. He's extremely large and he's extremely athletic. It's unusual to see that.\"

    Herrera should know all about Haynesworth. The two came to the University of Tennessee together, but Haynesworth left after three years. Herrera sees many of the same things in his former teammate now that he saw practicing against him then, but Haynesworth has matured, according to Herrera.

    \"He understands the game better, he understands how to work better,\" Herrera said. \"He's always been strong. Exactly what you see now is what you saw then.\"

    Haynesworth enters this weekend second among NFL defensive tackles with three sacks. Former Viking Fred Robbins, now with the New York Giants, leads the way while Minnesota's Kevin Williams has two.

    Hicks' own versatility on the offensive line should help him as well. He has faced defensive tackles when playing guard and he has faced defensive ends while playing tackle. Now, he'll likely be facing a defensive tackle while playing offensive tackle.

    Hicks actually has some experience playing against Haynesworth, but that also dates back to college, when Haynesworth was at Tennessee and Hicks at Memphis.

    \"From the way it looks, he's more of heavy penetrator, much like Shaun Rogers was, or he still is with the Browns – that was a guy that was in the division. And Kevin (Williams) is more of an all-around guy,\" Hicks said when asked if Haynesworth is comparable to Williams. \"Kevin has more of a pass-rush move; he's a great run-stopper too. I think Haynesworth is just a big, solid, strong guy who's just going to clog the middle up.

    \"He's very talented, but Kevin to me has a little bit more pass-rush skills.\"

    Herrera thinks Hicks' strengths as a versatile offensive lineman will suit him well against Haynesworth.

    \"It will be a little bit better for him to go against a guy that is a buller instead of quick moves,\" Herrera said.

    FORMER LION ON MILLEN

    Safety Eric Frampton spent the first half of the 2007 season as a Detroit Lion before the Vikings claimed him off waivers, which probably makes him the Viking with the greatest knowledge of former Detroit general manager Matt Millen, who was removed from his duties on Wednesday.

    \"He was a cool guy. He brought me in there and I really enjoyed talking with him. He's a good guy. He treated me with respect,\" Frampton said of Millen.

    Frampton said one of the personnel guys in Detroit told him of his release last October, but he said Millen was a hands-on guy with the team.

    PATCHING ON SPECIAL TEAMS

    The Vikings avoided losing their top two special teams players from last year for all of 2008 when it was revealed earlier this week that linebacker Vinny Ciurciu's knee injury wasn't as a serious as it appeared. Ciurciu finished tied for second last year with 15 special teams tackles, and the Vikings had already lost their special teams leader from last year, linebacker Heath Farwell (who had 32 tackles in 2007), for the season to a preseason knee injury.

    Antoine Winfield, David Herron and Husain Abdullah are all tied for the lead with three special teams tackles so far this year. Frampton is tied for fourth with two and said he would have tried to continue to be a special teams leader with or with Ciurciu, whose status for Sunday's game is uncertain.

    \"I see every opportunity to become a leader on special teams when I'm out there, whether it's making tackles or making a block. Whether Vinny's here or Heath is here, I'm going to let my work do all the talking,\" Frampton said. \"I'm going to continue to try to establish myself as a leader in everything that I do. (I'll) just keep doing what I've been doing. It doesn't really change my game. I'm just always striving for the best.\"

    Said Abdullah: \"We all race to get tackles or protect on punt or kickoff. We all just try to fly down and get tackles, so it's still the same opportunity.\"

    NOTES

  • Safety Madieu Williams returned to practice Thursday in at least a limited role for the first time since injuring his neck early in training camp. Williams had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday, according to head coach Brad Childress, so he presumably got good news on that front. Williams has declined several interview requests over the past two weeks, but his return to practice might change that.

  • Herrera, whose wife is from Tennessee, said he will need about 20 tickets for the game.

  • Rookie safety Tyrell Johnson said teams have begun targeting him more now than they did in his first game as a starter filling in for Williams.

    \"I think early on I wasn't targeted. But now I'm starting to be a little bit more of a target. But I think I'm handling it fairly well. A few mishaps here and there, but I think overall I'm doing really well,\" said Johnson, who added that he's been getting better at studying opponents.

    \"It's been a blessing to go out there and actually start as a rookie. Playing at Lambeau Field, it's very special. I'll look back on it later on in life and it's really going to hit me then.\"

    Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said Johnson has performed above expectations while filling in for the injured Madieu Williams.

    \"He's seeing different offenses and they're doing different things to attack him as well as our defense. It's good exposure for him. His composure, his poise, has really been outstanding and he is a very good athlete. You combine that and you've just got to believe that one day he's just going to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player,\" Frazier said.

  • Wide receiver Bernard Berrian, who caught a team-best 48-yard pass from Gus Frerotte last week, said the opportunities to connect on long pass plays was there before Frerotte made his first start in Week 3.

    \"We've had opportunities before, we just haven't landed them. The biggest thing is we go out and execute and land those plays,\" Berrian said.


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