The Vikings typically face many more 4-3 defenses than the 3-4 scheme. But they are in the middle of a three-game stretch featuring three-man defensive lines. One player will be glad when it's over.
If there is good news about the Vikings' current three-game run with Ravens, Steelers and Packers heading into the bye, it would be that they're facing three teams that operate out of the 3-4 defense on consecutive weeks.
Despite the increasing popularity of the 3-4 defense, more teams still operate with a 4-3 scheme as their base defense. So when the 3-4 looks come up on the schedule, it changes how the offense goes through the week of preparation. But having three teams in a row that run the same defense is something that Visanthe Shiancoe
said will be an edge for the Vikings during this current stretch of games.
"It's definitely an advantage," Shiancoe said. "Switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 every week is hard. We're playing a lot of 3-4 teams here. We pretty much get it. They're going to have two big outside linebackers. (Pittsburgh) will have (James) Harrison out there and guys that play at a high level. We know 3-4 teams are a little more physical and we know what it takes."
Shiancoe should know about the pros and cons of going up against a 3-4. He said he'll be happy when the Vikings are done with the Steelers and Packers because it will mean the end of 3-4 defenses that they will face during regular season and it can't come soon enough for him.
"As a tight end facing a 3-4 defense, their success comes from mauling a tight end," Shiancoe said. "It puts a lot of weight on our shoulders, but we can handle that. We handled those guys last week and we're just going to carry it over to this week."
The final injury report was released Friday and CB Antoine Winfield is listed as doubtful with a foot injury. He and WR Darius Reynaud (hamstring) are both listed as doubtful, while safeties Madieu Williams (quadriceps) and Husain Abdullah (back) and wide receiver Percy Harvin (shoulder) are listed as questionable. Three other players are listed as probable – Adrian Peterson (ankle), Phil Loadholt (ankle) and Eric Frampton (ankle).
The Steelers have just three players listed on their injury report – safety Troy Polamalu (probable, knee), running back Rashard Mendenhall (probable, knee) and linebacker Andre Frazier (questionable, thigh). Both Polamalu and Mendenhall are expected to start.
It is expected that Benny Sapp is going to replace Winfield in the starting lineup Sunday. In last week's game, when Winfield went down, he was replaced by Karl Paymah. Paymah is expected to be active in the nickel defense this week.
The Vikings' return game will have some question marks if Harvin can't go. Jaymar Johnson has filled in for Reynaud on punt return duties and may have to do so for Harvin on kickoffs if his shoulder doesn't permit him to play.
Former Viking Onterrio Smith was jailed Wednesday in California on a drug charge warrant. Smith was the passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. The driver was arrested for DUI. A background check on Smith found he had an outstanding warrant for possession of controlled substance. He was released on $15,000 bail.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.