Vikings don't diminish importance of Packers

Besides facing their biggest rival on Sunday, the Vikings are in a precarious position in the divisional race, trailing Chicago by one game and already having a loss to the Bears and Packers.

Among Brad Childress' shortcomings since he took over as the Vikings head coach in 2006 is the fact he has gone 0-5 against the arch-rival Green Bay Packers.

That needs to change if Minnesota is going to have a real hope of winning the NFC North. Of course, the task won't be any easier if Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen is sidelined by what he called a grade-3 sprain of his right shoulder. Allen did not practice Wednesday and there appears a real chance he might not be able to play.

Minnesota and Green Bay enter Sunday's game at the Metrodome tied for second in the division with 4-4 records, one game behind the Chicago Bears.

But the reality is that Minnesota is currently a game back of the Packers and two behind the Bears because it lost to both teams on the road.

Considering the Packers are easily the Vikings' biggest rival, Childress also could go a long way toward dialing down some of the public pressure he has received by getting a victory over Green Bay on his resume.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy also took over in 2006 and has posted a 25-15 record. McCarthy led the Packers to a 13-3 record last season and the NFC North title game. Childress, meanwhile, is 18-22 with no postseason appearances.

It should come as little surprise that Childress has no interest in discussing what has happened in the past. This includes a 34-0 victory by Green Bay last season in the most embarrassing defeat of Childress' tenure.

"I'm more worried about our record against Green Bay this week, really," Childress said. "The past is prologue. (This week) has nothing to do with the past. Those are different circumstances, as this week is a different circumstance. That's all we are worried about is our record this week against the Green Bay team that shows up with our (Week 10) Minnesota Vikings team."

Safety Darren Sharper spent his first eight seasons with the Packers before being jettisoned following the 2004 campaign. He quickly signed with the Vikings and played for Minnesota as it swept the Packers in 2005. Sharper hasn't beaten the Packers since.

"Besides just the simple fact of losing a game and how much that upsets you, the fact you're playing your old team it might burn a little bit more," Sharper said. "But that's how it has gone. They've had our number the last couple of times but that doesn't make this game more of a likelihood that they are going to win."

The Vikings chances would appear to be much better if they have Allen's services. Allen was injured in the Vikings' victory over Houston on Sunday.

He continued to play but his arm was in a sling.

Brian Robison, who has played all along the line this season, would be the most likely candidate to replace Allen. But Sharper expressed confidence Allen will play in a game that is key to his team's season.

"This is a big game, similar to the first game we played them," Sharper said. "That was a little bit different, it was a while back and you could say that might have set the tone for the season, but really it doesn't because the season is so long. But this one I really think will set the tone for the rest of the year. So it's big. They've had a good record against us in the past and now it's time for us to hopefully turn that record around in our favor."

BY THE NUMBERS: 9 — Touchdowns by the Vikings of 20-plus yards this season. That ranks second in the NFL behind Dallas' 10.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's as even-keeled as anybody I've seen. He doesn't come in there and give you a whole bunch on third down and eight. He gives you the same demeanor on first down and 10 as third down and 15, fourth down and 20, whatever. It doesn't matter, which is what you want. You want a consistent guy who will look you in the eye and tell you exactly what is going on, where you can look at him and have confidence that we are going to execute this play. It's definitely reciprocated. What he sees in us, we definitely see the same thing in him." - Wide receiver Bobby Wade on the demeanor of veteran quarterback Gus Frerotte in the huddle.


The Vikings have unveiled a dime defense that includes rookie safety Tyrell Johnson, who started the first seven games of the season. Johnson has moved into a backup role with Madieu Williams having returned from a neck injury.

In the new look, Williams slides into a coverage position and Johnson teams with veteran Darren Sharper as the safeties.

Williams played cornerback early in his career and is considered a good matchup against tight ends. Having six defensive backs on the field leaves Ben Leber as the sole linebacker.

  • DE Jared Allen said Wednesday he has a grade-3 sprain of the AC joint in his right shoulder, meaning it would be the most serious sprain and could indicate a torn ligament. Allen did not practice Wednesday and there appears a good chance he won't' be able to play Sunday against Green Bay. A grade-3 sprain means there is often a two-to-four week period for recovery.

  • DT Brian Robison is being used all along the line by the coaching staff. Robison is normally a right end but he's also begun playing tackle at times in passing situations. Robison is speedy at 6-3, 259-pounds and presents problems for interior offensive linemen. He likely will start at right end Sunday if Allen can't go.

  • S Husain Abdullah was limited in practice Wednesday because of a neck injury.

  • LB David Herron was limited in practice Wednesday because of a hip injury. Herron has not played in the past two games.

  • TE Garrett Mills was limited in practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury that sidelined him for the Vikings' victory over Houston last Sunday.

  • WR Robert Ferguson had an excused absence Wednesday because he was tending to a personal issue.

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