Williams expects to play after bye

The Vikings already lost their starting middle linebacker for the season, but they are expected to get a starter back after the bye when safety Madieu Williams returns after a training camp neck injury.

When the Vikings return to action next week, they are expected to have safety Madieu Williams in the secondary. Williams, who suffered a severe neck injury during training camp, hasn't played a down for the Vikings yet this season.

In his absence, the team has used second-round rookie Tyrell Johnson at safety alongside Darren Sharper. While Johnson has played well, one of the primary reasons the Vikings made Williams one of their first free-agent signings in the offseason was the fit that he would be in the secondary and the big-play ability he is expected to provide.

The veteran safety left Cincinnati last March to sign a six-year, $33 million contract with Minnesota that included almost $13 million guaranteed.

"I expect to play against Houston," Williams said. "That's the mindset going forward. Until something else changes between now and then, that's the approach I'm going to take."

Williams entered the league as a cornerback and is considered to be very capable in coverage. It remains to be seen how the Vikings will use him initially.

"We'll have to see in what role that is," coach Brad Childress said. "It's all been a process with him. The healing, getting the cardio back to where it needs to be and then back to the football-type movements. Last week we introduced some of the collision-type stuff that has to go on and that you have to be comfortable with. You don't want to do full-speed contact work for the first time in an NFL game."

While most teams are dealing with the loss of players on a week-to-week basis, it will be comforting sign for the Vikings to actually get a player back rather than seeing one going down to injury at midseason.

FRIDAY NOTES

  • As expected, the Vikings re-signed linebacker Rufus Alexander to the practice squad Thursday. Alexander was signed from the practice squad to the 53-man roster prior to Sunday's game with Chicago. Following the game, Alexander was released in order to bring Erin Henderson back to the roster. He cleared waivers and was available to be re-signed Thursday.

  • At this point last season, the Vikings were also 3-4, but were in the beginning of a winning streak that would see them end up with a record of 8-6 through 14 weeks and, at the time, controlling their own wild card destiny.

  • The Packers are at 4-3 and have matched their loss total for all of 2007.

  • Since becoming the starter in Week 3, Gus Frerotte is third in the league in passing yards with 1,286 – behind only Drew Brees and Kyle Orton. Aaron Rodgers is fourth, which would give the NFC North three of the top four yardage passers since Week 3. So this is supposed to be the Black and Blue Division, right?

  • The Vikings will have to face Houston's Dunta Robinson next week. Robinson, who suffered a horrible knee injury last year that kept him on the physically-unable-to-perform list for the first six weeks of the regular season, is now being worked back into the lineup.

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