Notebook: ‘D' line could be thinned

Three Vikings defensive linemen reportedly are set to meet with NFL officials this week to discuss possible suspensions while the fourth member of the starting unit could be fined later this week as well.

The Vikings weren't able to sack Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia on Sunday, but the NFL could lay a hit to the Vikings defensive line this week if separate reports prove accurate.

ESPN reported Sunday that Vikings defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams will be among the NFL players to have their appeals heard this week. The league reportedly issued four-game suspensions for the two Pro Bowlers after they violated the NFL policy on anabolic steroids and related substances. The culprit is believed to be StarCaps, a diuretic product that didn't list the banned substance Bumetanide on an ingredient but that substance purportedly exists in the product.

However, the league is stringent on holding players responsible for what they put in their bodies, even if they aren't always aware of what might be contained in a product.

"Even more damaging to the players' cases, sources say that Dr. John Lombardo, the administrator of the steroids and performance enhancement policy, had issued additional warnings in 2007 and 2008 about diuretics and water pills, as well as listing the maker of StarCaps as a company that produces banned substances," ESPN's Chris Mortenson reported Sunday.

Another report on FoxSports.com revealed that Minnesota's other Pro Bowl defensive lineman, Jared Allen, will meet with the NFL on Tuesday, when he is expected to defend a few of his hits on opposing quarterbacks over the last few weeks in an attempt to avoid another big fine or even suspension. Allen was fined $50,000 on Nov. 7 for two hits below the knees of Texans quarterback Matt Schaub.

"They want me to explain what I'm thinking when I'm trying to get after the quarterback," Allen told Jay Glazer of Fox Sports. "Look, I will never, ever intentionally try to hurt anyone in this game. I have too much respect for it and for everyone on that field."

Earlier this week, Allen defended his actions when he was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

"It's hard to (shut it down quickly), and I guess sometimes that's why you get in those situations. The refs are usually pretty good about (you) hearing a whistle and stuff like that. That's why there is leniency in you (getting) a couple of steps or a step," Allen said. "You just don't really think about it. It's one of those things when you're growing up learning how to play, you just kind of have that feel of what's OK and what's not."

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said there is a difference between reviewing the play in slow motion and seeing it live.

"It matters. I don't know how you can ignore that fact. To be able to go back and replay some of those plays when you've got opportunities to make plays … it's a dramatic difference when you slow the play down versus when you see it in real time," he said. "I hope that will be taken into account as we go forward. Real time matters in our game. It's not played in slow motion. I know for our guys, who have been in those situations, nobody has intentionally tried to hurt a player or maim a player. Somehow, some way you would hope that that would be taken into account, what happens during real time. How that gets done, I don't know."

The league had no comment on Allen's situation and doesn't not comment on individual cases going through the appeals process, a league spokesman told Viking Update.

With all the activity off the field for the defensive line this week, the Vikings might be severely limited at the position in upcoming games, and Ray Edwards didn't help matters Sunday when he was flagged for an obvious late hit on Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia.

Edwards is likely to receive a fine for that hit.

"I was fortunate that didn't cause a concussion," said Garcia, who got up slowly but stayed in the game and had stitches applied on his chin after the game.

PRESSURE POINTS

Despite all the Pro Bowl talent on the Vikings defensive line, it struggled to get pressure on Garcia. Minnesota's defensive linemen were held without a sack, and young Donald Penn, a third-year left tackle whom the Vikings signed as an undrafted free agent in 2006 and subsequently released that year, deserves part of the credit. He held Allen to no sacks, no quarterback hurries and one tackle-for-loss.

"The offensive line did a great job all game long of keeping a pretty good front four – a really good front four – off my back," Garcia said. "Jared Allen is a great defensive end. He's been a menace these last few years."

Allen had produced six sacks in the previous four games. The only sack the Vikings got was from Chad Greenway when he stopped a Garcia scramble inches short of the line of scrimmage.

Greenway had 16 tackles. The team record is 24 by Scott Studwell during a 1985 game against the Detroit Lions.

GAME OF BIG HITS

Sunday's game featured some intense hitting from both teams. Fox sideline reporter Chris Myers said that each team was told to keep their players under control by referee Mike Carey during the first half.

Several players for each team left the game for varying amounts of time.

Vikings receiver Bobby Wade was hurt on the first series, but that didn't dissuade the Vikings from going three-wide on the very next play with Bernard Berrian, Aundrae Allison and Sidney Rice in the game. Wade returned to the game later to catch his first touchdown pass of the season early in the second quarter.

On their third drive of the game, tight end Garrett Mills hurt his left leg, but he returned to the field and caught his first pass in six games.

Cornerback Benny Sapp was also injured and, like Mills and Wade, he returned to the field later.

The Bucs lost running back Earnest Graham to an ankle injury he suffered on his first carry of the game. He didn't return to action.

NOTES

  • Receiver Bobby Wade said it was "tough to celebrate" his first touchdown of the season with it coming in a game the Vikings lost. Wade caught a 4-yard touchdown on a play that was installed last week. The bubble route to Wade in the slot was designed to take advantage of Ronde Barber's aggressiveness, and Bernard Berrian got enough of a block on the edge to help Minnesota to its only touchdown of the game.

  • Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia said he saw Minnesota's two safeties playing wide on a critical play that turned second-and-25 into first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Garcia placed a perfect pass over the head of LB Ben Leber and into the arms of TE Jerramy Steven, who held onto the ball after a hit by S Darren Sharper.

  • The Bucs entered Sunday's game allowing less than 11 points per game in their 4-0 run at home this season. The Vikings' 13 points were the second highest total scored against Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium this season. Green Bay scored 21 in a loss.

  • Ryan Longwell had a rare touchback to open the second half when he kicked the ball deep into the end zone. It was only the third touchback for Longwell this season, which tied him 29th in the league through Sunday's games.


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