View Full Version : Thomas ready if Leber can't go

09-29-2006, 04:07 AM
Thomas ready if Leber can't go
Starting linebacker hobbled with knee sprain

Pioneer Press
The Vikings might have to play Sunday's game at Buffalo without starting strong-side linebacker Ben Leber, who was held out of Thursday's practice because of a sprained left knee.

Leber, who is listed as questionable, wouldn't rule himself out, but he spent the early portion of practice working with Dontarrious Thomas, who moved from backup middle linebacker to the strong-side position and is the likely starter if Leber can't go.

"I'm pretty comfortable there," Thomas said. "Playing the mike (middle) position allows you to be familiar with all three linebacker positions. I just needed to get some practice reps."

Leber said he has done some jogging and movement exercises, and he said the injury is improving every day.

"I'd never rule myself out as long as I keep getting treatment and it keeps progressing the way it's progressing," he said, later adding, "It looks good for Sunday, but we'll see."

Leber and defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin also expressed full confidence in Thomas' ability to handle the starting role.

"We have some very capable men," Tomlin said. "It's probably going to take more than one man if Ben doesn't play, but I'm not going to rule him out. He's a very tough guy. He finished the game last week, so we'll wait and see on that."

Jason Glenn has been working as Leber's backup and could see some playing time if Leber is unable to play.

Runaway Buffalo: Washington's Clinton Portis played more than expected in the season opener, but the Vikings' defense could see the best running back it has faced this season Sunday.

Buffalo's Willis McGahee is the NFL's leading rusher with 311 yards, and he's coming off a career-best 150-yard game in last Sunday's 28-20 loss to the New York Jets.

The Bills have the league's 29th-ranked passing offense, but the Vikings know they'll have their hands full with Buffalo's ninth-ranked rushing game and McGahee, who some thought might never play in the NFL after he shredded his knee in his final college game for Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.

"He's a legitimate back," Tomlin said. "He's a known commodity. We respect him, and we look forward to playing him."

What-if department: Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie could be forgiven if he enjoys a little chuckle at the Bills' expense.

After all, it was Buffalo's decision to take offensive tackle Mike Williams with the fourth selection of the 2002 draft that left McKinnie for Minnesota with the No. 7 pick.

The Bills acknowledged their mistake during the offseason when they released Williams, who wound up in Jacksonville.

"Well, it's obvious," McKinnie said. "He's not there anymore. If they felt he was good, they would have kept him. It's their loss. He was gone after four years, and he wasn't starting at a certain point, and I've started every game since I've been here."

McKinnie got in one more shot, adding, "I mean, you can compare us two, but … I give props to Levi Jones before I give him props."

Jones is in his fifth season with Cincinnati, which took him with the 10th selection in 2002.

Injury update: The Vikings added running back Chester Taylor to their injury report as probable with an ankle injury, but Taylor, apparently not wishing to give the Bills any assistance, refused to confirm the injury.

"I'm sick. I've got the flu," he said. "I'll be all right."

Defensive tackle Pat Williams (ankle) remains questionable.

Briefly: Defensive tackle Kevin Williams returned to practice after being excused from Wednesday's session for personal reasons.

Defensive end Erasmus James, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the Game 2 win over Carolina, will undergo surgery Wednesday in Denver.

09-29-2006, 06:26 AM
Man, we are riddled with injuries.. Those of them that are questionable, could play and hurt themselves even more.. Risky move either way..

09-29-2006, 09:18 AM
I would be surprised if Leber didn't play. Tomlin seems very confident in Thomas thats good to hear though.

09-29-2006, 09:37 AM
i am not sure i would play leber if he isnt 100%, why risk making it a worse and tomlin will play who he thinks and knows is the best one to replace him..i just wouldnt risk it and have him miss alot more games for injurying it more..

09-29-2006, 09:54 AM
I agree with vikingbill...to an extent, I agree in the sense if Leber isn't 100% why risk it. Though I believe Thomas can get the job done, I actually would like to see Cooper play as a sub for Thomas. We do have Glenn but I think he's a little more suited to be a ST'er than a LB rotating into the starting mix, that and Cooper knows the system.