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singersp
10-14-2005, 01:21 PM
BY SEAN JENSEN

Pioneer Press


Before the season, after the Vikings traded for veteran Melvin Fowler, starting center Cory Withrow said the job was his to lose.

After four games, Withrow said his run as starter is over.

During the past two days at practice, Fowler has taken the bulk of the snaps with the first-string offense, and he is poised to make his first start Sunday in Chicago.

"They made their decision, and I've got no one to blame but myself," Withrow said Thursday. "They gave me a chance, and I blew it. Now I've got to help the team any way I can."

Acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 3, Fowler made a brief appearance during the Vikings' 30-10 loss in Atlanta.

Coach Mike Tice said earlier in the week that Fowler needed to work on his shotgun snaps and prove he could handle the two-minute drill.

"I feel like I got better," Fowler said. "I did some positive things."

Asked if he would start, Fowler said: "Every week, I get a chance to start. So we'll see what happens. Who knows?"

If practice is any indication, the Vikings have made two lineup changes coming out of the bye. Adam Goldberg has supplanted rookie Marcus Johnson at right guard. But, unlike Johnson, Withrow is not expected to play much Sunday.

Payback: Rookie defensive end Erasmus James doesn't have an NFL sack. But he couldn't think of a better player to get his first against than Bears rookie Kyle Orton.

During a dominant performance against Purdue last October, James suffered an ankle injury when Boilermakers tight end Charles Davis cut block him. Orton showed no remorse for James' injury.

"He was saying something along the lines of he was cool with me getting hurt," said James, who was at Wisconsin. "That it was OK, knowing it wasn't OK. It bothers me a lot."

During the past few days, James has spent extra time after practice with coaches. He also watches more film.

He is not expected to start. But James will get significant playing time, and he'll get his chances to get to Orton.

Injury update: Receiver Nate Burleson and cornerback Brian Williams continue to progress. But both remained listed as out for Sunday's game. Meanwhile, the chances of defensive end Spencer Johnson playing lessened. He is listed as doubtful and did not practice Thursday because of a sprained right medial collateral ligament. Running back Moe Williams also was limited in practice and is listed as questionable. He is expected to play Sunday.

Linebacker E.J. Henderson and safety Darren Sharper were removed from the injury report.

Tice said quarterback Daunte Culpepper appears to have benefited from the bye week.

"The quarterback's legs look like they are fresh and he's gotten over, for the most part, that nagging knee that has been bugging him over the course of the first three or four games," Tice said.

Different D: Bears Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher is relieved that receiver Randy Moss is no longer with the Vikings.

"Thank goodness he's gone," he said. "We can pretty much change our whole game plan because he's not in there anymore. We used to just play Cover 2 pretty much the whole game, and they would gash us in their running game, but I think we'll be able to change it up a little bit this year."

Urlacher said the Bears could put eight players in the tackle box with Moss gone.

"It's a little bit different trying to run the ball when you've got eight guys in the box," he said.

Buttoning up: One change from the owner's leadership retreat this week was immediately implemented. The Vikings' coordinators had been accessible to reporters after practices. But reporters now must get permission from Tice to speak to the coordinators, just as they must with other assistant coaches. It was not clear why the change was made.

Briefly: Koren Robinson will remain the kick returner and will play in more packages as a receiver.

• Depending on whom the Vikings make inactive, Keenan Howry is expected to be active to handle punt returns. If he does not, Fred Smoot, Mewelde Moore and Robinson are options.

PurplePeopleEaters
10-14-2005, 01:27 PM
Good thing fowler is starting..


This here makes me mad.

"Thank goodness he's gone," he said. "We can pretty much change our whole game plan because he's not in there anymore. We used to just play Cover 2 pretty much the whole game, and they would gash us in their running game, but I think we'll be able to change it up a little bit this year."

Urlacher said the Bears could put eight players in the tackle box with Moss gone.

"It's a little bit different trying to run the ball when you've got eight guys in the box," he said.

V4L
10-14-2005, 02:34 PM
Briefly: Koren Robinson will remain the kick returner and will play in more packages as a receiver.


I like that right there.. I was very happy with the pick up



As for the line im glad it's getting attention.. Johnson out for now.. Goldberg in.. Withrow out.. Fowler in.. Now on to winning please!

digital420
10-14-2005, 03:51 PM
it's about time Fowler got a chacne. i would like to see all the centers work with Birk though.. noone knows D.C. better, and he IS a pro-bowl center.

goldberg moving over is a great thing as well.. he's hungry and has the size to help.

can't wait to see the bears d get racked by TROY!!!

they think only moss could blow them by? wait till nate and troy are taking their secondary to the endzone!!!


DiGiTaL

sunny
10-14-2005, 04:04 PM
"PurplePeopleEaters" wrote:

Good thing fowler is starting..


This here makes me mad.

"Thank goodness he's gone," he said. "We can pretty much change our whole game plan because he's not in there anymore. We used to just play Cover 2 pretty much the whole game, and they would gash us in their running game, but I think we'll be able to change it up a little bit this year."

Urlacher said the Bears could put eight players in the tackle box with Moss gone.

"It's a little bit different trying to run the ball when you've got eight guys in the box," he said.


Yeah I did'nt like that either. The best way to shut Urlacher up would be to send Troy deeeeeeeeep on the first plan and torch them for a TD and make them change thier gameplan right away.

Please Tice come out thowing and loooong.(if we have any time to that is)

VKG4LFE
10-14-2005, 04:06 PM
Whatever makes the line better I'm all for it!

singersp
10-14-2005, 07:32 PM
"digital420" wrote:

it's about time Fowler got a chacne. i would like to see all the centers work with Birk though.. noone knows D.C. better, and he IS a pro-bowl center.

goldberg moving over is a great thing as well.. he's hungry and has the size to help.

can't wait to see the bears d get racked by TROY!!!

they think only moss could blow them by? wait till nate and troy are taking their secondary to the endzone!!!


DiGiTaL

Nate won't be taking anyone anywhere. He won't be playing.

mnvikes61
10-14-2005, 07:36 PM
"sunny" wrote:

"PurplePeopleEaters" wrote:

Good thing fowler is starting..


This here makes me mad.

"Thank goodness he's gone," he said. "We can pretty much change our whole game plan because he's not in there anymore. We used to just play Cover 2 pretty much the whole game, and they would gash us in their running game, but I think we'll be able to change it up a little bit this year."

Urlacher said the Bears could put eight players in the tackle box with Moss gone.

"It's a little bit different trying to run the ball when you've got eight guys in the box," he said.


Yeah I did'nt like that either. The best way to shut Urlacher up would be to send Troy deeeeeeeeep on the first plan and torch them for a TD and make them change thier gameplan right away.

Please Tice come out thowing and loooong.(if we have any time to that is)
that'd be so awesome! we should try and do waht the Cowboys did against the eagles and just open up huge and knock them out of their game plan.
i personally really don't like Urlacher, everybody is so high on the guy down here in New Mexico it makes me sick!

snowinapril
10-14-2005, 07:42 PM
"PurplePeopleEaters" wrote:

Good thing fowler is starting..


This here makes me mad.

"Thank goodness he's gone," he said. "We can pretty much change our whole game plan because he's not in there anymore. We used to just play Cover 2 pretty much the whole game, and they would gash us in their running game, but I think we'll be able to change it up a little bit this year."

Urlacher said the Bears could put eight players in the tackle box with Moss gone.

"It's a little bit different trying to run the ball when you've got eight guys in the box," he said.


If they put eight in the box, we need to send Troy and any other WR that feels the need for speed over the top. Their CB are suspect. I just saw a segment on Playbook about this. The Bears play a cover 2 the majority of the time, Lovie-Ball. They apparently don't have the talent back there to play it correctly, so we need to attack it. We mainly need to play smart ball and take advantage of it when we have the opp.

Playbook said it is 7 in the Box, not 8???????

BTW, back on topic, I am glad Fowler is getting the chance, Withrow is a good replacement for the line, I think that is his best role right now. Besides, isn't he the guy that gets the ball all sweaty.

Del Rio
10-14-2005, 07:47 PM
Urlacher is so athletic and so fast to break on the ball that the majority of the time they will have him shadow the QB if possible.

I think one of the biggest keys for the game is to have Daunte freeze Urlacher. The only way I see him doing this is by breaking a nice run early, and by looking off his routes. He needs to avoid locking on one guy and drawing a map for one of the best LB's around.

If he can look off his routes and keep em guessing we have a shot. If he locks on those short routes I guarantee Urlacher takes one to the house.

mnjamie
10-15-2005, 04:30 AM
Center Cory Withrow has been told he will not start Sunday, meaning backup Melvin Fowler will get his first start.

http://www.startribune.com/stories/503/5668416.html



I sure hope he can keep some of the heat off of CPep and get the running game going more.

Lotza
10-15-2005, 05:14 AM
lets go fowler! this is your shot!!!!

Prime Time 84
10-15-2005, 05:27 AM
I miss Matt Birk. He meant a lot to our team. Though I sort of hate him at the moment. After all, he's not doing us much good at this time, and he was one of the advocates of the Moss trade.


Still, it would've been interesting to see how much having him in the lineup would help. I'm afraid he may not be the same player when he returns.

Lotza
10-15-2005, 05:32 AM
how could you hate matt birk?!?!? the dude is awesome! too bad he's injured though. man we do miss him. lets go vikes!!

Muggsy
10-16-2005, 01:50 AM
Vikings shake up offensive line
By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

As owner Zygi Wilf attempts to address the Minnesota Vikings' bad-boy image, in the wake of allegations some players participated in a debauchery-marked lake junket last week, coach Mike Tice has set out to clean up his team's bad offensive line play.

Tice has shaken up the line for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, moving in two new starters in an attempt to find some consistency on a blocking unit that has struggled as the Vikings, the preseason favorites in the NFC North, have limped to a 1-3 start.

Fourth-year veteran Melvin Fowler, acquired from the Cleveland Browns in a Labor Day trade, will replace Cory Withrow at center. In a move anticipated for a couple of weeks, rookie Marcus Johnson has been demoted at right guard in favor of Adam Goldberg.

It is expected that Johnson, a second-round draft pick from the University of Mississippi, who played mostly at tackle in college, will spell Goldberg for some series on Sunday. But the indications are that, unless he is injured, Fowler will play the entire game at the key center position.

"We'll see how the game progresses," Tice said. "If we have something there's that is not broken, we'll leave it that way."

Minnesota started the same offensive line -- left tackle Bryant McKinnie, left guard Chris Liwienski, Withrow at center, Johnson at right guard, and left tackle Mike Rosenthal -- in each of its first four games. The result: The Vikings statistically rank 24th in the league in total offense and their once-potent attack has rarely been in synch.

Some observers attribute the offensive slippage to the departure of wide receiver Randy Moss, traded to Oakland in the offseason, and the uneven performance of quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who has been prone to turnovers. But the blocking has not been very crisp all season, especially for the running game, and it is not surprising that Tice made changes in the lineup during his club's bye week.

The Vikings have struggled at center since losing four-time Pro Bowl performer Matt Birk to season-ending hip surgery just before the start of the campaign. At 287 pounds, Withrow is not as stout as Birk and he has been pushed around by opposing defenders. In fact, the line in general does not feature any strong drive-blockers with Birk out. The unit has some solid technicians, like both starting tackles, but lacks overall physical presence.

The hope is that Fowler, who is starting his first game in a Vikings uniform, will provide some muscle. The downside might be that Fowler probably doesn't have as good a grasp on the mental side of the Minnesota offense, making the adjustment calls, but that he will be more rugged than Withrow had been.

Fowler was acquired from Cleveland for backup tackle Nat Dorsey in a deal that came as teams were reducing their rosters to the regular-season limit. The Minnesota staff knew that Fowler probably would challenge for a starting job at some point this season, but had to wait for him to assimiliate the playbook. Fowler played briefly in a loss at Atlanta that came just before the bye. His play Sunday, coaches agree, will be critical for the Vikings.

A third-round choice in the 2002 draft, Fowler appeared in 30 games in three seasons with the Browns, and logged 14 starts. There were some coaches on the former Cleveland staff who felt Fowler had surpassed starting center Jeff Faine, a former first-round pick, late last season.

Minnesota desperately needs a win Sunday, not just to quiet some of the criticism from the team's latest off-field misadventure, but to make progress in an NFC North division whose overall decline means the Vikings are still very much in the playoff chase despite their 1-3 record.

As disappointing as their poor start has been the play of the Vikings offense, which was expected, even minus Moss, to be a potent unit. The No. 24 ranking is the team's worst after four games in recent history. Minnesota ranked No. 1 in offense after four games in 2004 and No. 2 at the quarter-pole of the 2003 season. Even in 2002, when the Vikings started the year 0-4, they were the ninth-best offense in the league in the first month.

PurplePeopleEaters
10-16-2005, 01:59 AM
Good move Tice and co.

singersp
10-16-2005, 02:31 AM
But the blocking has not been very crisp all season, especially for the running game, and it is not surprising that Tice made changes in the lineup during his club's bye week.

The Vikings have struggled at center since losing four-time Pro Bowl performer Matt Birk to season-ending hip surgery just before the start of the campaign. At 287 pounds, Withrow is not as stout as Birk and he has been pushed around by opposing defenders. In fact, the line in general does not feature any strong drive-blockers with Birk out.

I hope Tice & company realize this is why the run game up the middle hasn't worked all year. I'm hoping these guys can either open up some holes or the coaches have come up with a different approach to the running game.

scottishvike
10-16-2005, 02:42 AM
So far the OL has been struggling so change can't be a bad thing. Still missing Birk though.

tke0933
10-16-2005, 02:58 AM
Birk added more than just bulk. His line calls helped out tremendously to the time Culpepper had to throw and who picked up what blitz.