Vikings have addressed no-huddle concerns

The Vikings were having issues with Baltimore's no-huddle offense in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game and they are expecting to see more of that from Pittsburgh this weekend. For a number of reasons, Ben Leber believes it will be handled better.

Consider Sunday's fourth-quarter frenzy against the Baltimore Ravens a warmup for the Vikings, who travel to Pittsburgh to face a team that likes to kick start the no-huddle offense at any point during a game.

Last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers outscored the Cleveland Browns 17-7 in the second quarter, which was when Ben Roethlisberger and his offense went almost exclusively to a no-huddle offense, according to Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.

"We actually simulate no-huddle. We did it a week ago and it is something that we are always aware of," Frazier said, referring to the Ravens game. "It is something that you have to be able to communicate when it happens. They did some smart things and some things that we have to adjust to and I'm sure that we will see again."

The Vikings can expect a dose of the hurry-up offense again at Heinz Field. But linebacker Ben Leber believes the Vikings are better prepared for it this time around, knowing that the Steelers are more likely to use it at different times throughout the game.

"I think now we're prepared for it, plus we'll be on the road as a defense," Leber said. "You take the crowd noise out of it and now you can communicate both verbally and with hand signals. When that happens, you don't usually have any miscommunication."

The crowd at the Metrodome was trying to make it difficult on Baltimore's offense to operate in the fourth quarter as the score got tighter. However, it turns out that noise also affected the Vikings defense because it was having difficulty with the hand signals.

"I think it was just a combination of things – hurry-up offense, no-huddle, crowd noise. After some of those big plays, we were running with them and they're lining up. It's so loud you can't hardly communicate," Leber said. "I think some of the hand signals didn't get communicated across the board. It's just one of those things that it doesn't happen a lot, but it happened."

In that respect, playing on the road in Pittsburgh may actually help the Vikings. The Heinz Field crowd likely won't be in full throat when Roethlisberger is trying to operate the Steelers' no-huddle attack and therefore the defense won't have to rely on hand signals as often.

The Vikings also head into the game knowing that the Steelers like to operate without huddling at times. That means the defense might not be able to substitute situationally as much as they are accustomed to doing.

"You definitely have to make sure that you're not in situations where you have to run guys in and out the whole time. You've got to be comfortable maybe playing base against some typical nickel situations and vice versa," Leber said. "Generally we're pretty good with the guys upstairs seeing the personnel coming on and off the field. It does make it difficult, but since we're aware of it during the week, we'll practice it, we'll rep it and guys will be on point on the sidelines and ready to go."

Vikings coach Brad Childress said the team practiced about a half hour longer on Friday, saying they were just working extra on some things. Leber said earlier in the week that he felt the situation was addressed.

"It's very rare that there's a communication (breakdown). We addressed it and I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon," Leber said.

NOTES

  • CB Antoine Winfield (foot) and WR Darius Reynaud (hamstring) are both doubtful for the Steelers game. S Husain Abdullah (back), WR Percy Harvin (shoulder) and S Madieu Williams (quadriceps) are questionable. S Eric Frampton (ankle), T Phil Loadholt (ankle) and RB Adrian Peterson (ankle) are all probable.

  • For the Steelers, LB Andre Frazier (thigh) is questionable. RB Rashard Mendendall (knee) and S Troy Polamalu (knee) are probable.

  • Peterson said his ankle wasn't feeling too bad on Monday after it twisted Sunday against the Ravens. "It was kind of scary to see. But I was like, ‘God bless' because I woke up the next morning and it was feeling great," he said. "It was a little sore, but from what you see on film it could have been a lot worse, so I was thankful.

  • Frazier said his defensive players have to know that if they continue to make mistakes they could lose their starting jobs. "You have to point out the mistakes like we do. You have to make them aware that if it consistently happens you run the risk of losing your position," he said. "You just can't continue to have busted assignments on things that two plays ago you played very well but for whatever reason on this play you do something different. We've got the right guys in the room and we will get it corrected. We have to."

  • Apparently Roethlisberger doesn't pay attention to the gambling lines. According to vegasinsider.com, the Steelers are 3½-point favorites, but not according to their quarterback. "We're underdogs at home, so it's fun," Roethlisberger said this week.


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