Better after the bye?

Vikings coach Brad Childress expects his team to perform better as the second half of the season progresses.

The Vikings returned to Winter Park on Monday after getting a week off to enjoy their bye. With nine games to go and the team one game out of first place in the NFC North with a 3-4 record, coach Brad Childress is expecting to see improvement.

"I would expect them to be better as we go," he said. "As I mentioned before (the problems in the first seven games weren't) stuff that isn't correctable. You look at your flaws, you share them together. We looked at a number of things (Monday) morning as a team as we go forward.

"The good teams get hot and play well as they finish through November and December. ... But our whole focus has to be the Houston Texans. We can't look beyond the horizon."

The Vikings will play host to the Texans in the first of back-to-back home games that will feature a key NFC North matchup with the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 9.

Minnesota is one game behind the Bears and Packers in the division but already has lost to both of those teams on the road and needs to get a victory back at home.

That could become far more difficult if a Fox Sports report from the weekend proves to be accurate. The network reported Vikings Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams could be facing four-game suspensions for violating the NFL's steroid policy by taking water pills, but so far there has been no confirmation of the story.

Houston is coming off a 35-6 victory over Cincinnati and has won three in a row to improve to 3-4 on the season. The Vikings are 0-2 so far this season against the AFC South.

The Texans have yet to win on the road this season, starting off the season with losses at Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Jacksonville. Childress compares the Texans to the Denver Broncos, where current Houston coach Gary Kubiak was a one-time assistant.

"I won't say they have a Denver personality to them, they have a Houston Texan personality, but that's Gary's pedigree through the West Coast system," Childress said. "You can see some things that are very similar."

NOTES

  • QB Gus Frerotte is 3-2 as the Vikings starter and will be making his sixth start on Sunday when Minnesota plays host to Houston in its first game back from the bye. Frerotte made a total of three starts over the past two seasons while with the St. Louis Rams but did start 15 games for the Miami Dolphins in 2005. He is now 40-46-1 in his career as a starter.

  • RB Adrian Peterson got a week off to rest a hamstring that he injured in Week 2 against the Colts. He has rushed for 100 yards in four games this season, including back-to-back 100-yard efforts against Detroit and Chicago. Peterson is among the NFL rushing leaders with 684 yards.

  • RB Chester Taylor has become a pass-catching threat in the offense. His 18 catches rank third on the team and are only 11 behind his total for the 2007 season. Taylor, though, only has 39 rushing attempts this season after having 157 last year and a career-high 303 in 2006. Taylor sees the majority of his playing time in third-down situations, hence the reason he is needed to catch passes.

  • TE Visanthe Shiancoe continues to play well after dropping three passes in the first three games. His three touchdown receptions are tied for the team lead, and he is fourth on the team in receiving with 17 catches.

  • WR Bernard Berrian has three touchdown catches in the past three games and is leading the team with 517 receiving yards despite playing the season with a sore big toe on his right foot and a knee injury he suffered in practice early this month. Berrian's 28 catches are only two behind Bobby Wade's team-leading 30.

  • WR Sidney Rice got about 10 to 15 snaps Oct. 19 at Chicago after being inactive for three of the past four games because of a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Rice spent much of the bye week continuing to receive treatment at the Vikings facility. He has only three receptions this season.

  • WR Bobby Wade leads the team with 30 receptions this season. The return of Sidney Rice to full-time duty should enable Wade to move back into the slot where he is more comfortable playing.

  • LB Chad Greenway leads the team with 50 tackles through seven games, according to the NFL statistics. Thirty-seven of Greenway's tackles have been solo. Greenway's total is six more than CB Cedric Griffin has.

  • LB Napoleon Harris played much of the Chicago game in the middle after being signed as a free agent that week. Harris, who had been let go by Kansas City on Oct. 21, figures to move into the starting role in the middle for the remainder of the season. He served in that role for the Vikings in 2006 but was replaced by E.J. Henderson the next season. Henderson is out for the year because of a foot injury.

  • S Madieu Williams is slated to make his debut with the Vikings on Sunday against Houston. Williams has been out since early in training camp because of a neck injury. He was signed to a six-year, $33 million deal as a free agent this offseason. Tyrell Johnson has been playing in his place.


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