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What We Learned: Vikings vs. Lions Storylines

Posted Sep 6, 2013

The week of practice is over and the Vikings are nearly set to travel to Detroit for Sunday’s season opener. Here’s what we learned this week about the Vikings as they prepared to face the Lions...

The Vikings defense is committed to defending the…run?
You thought it was the pass. Yes, it’s important for the Vikings to be sound against the pass, but Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams stressed on Thursday that the Vikings top priority is to shut down the Lions ground game. The Vikings did that last year, allowing 55 yards in Week 4 and 60 yards in Week 12, and they wound up winning both games against the Lions.

“One of the things that we did well was we defended the run plays that they had last year and I think when we got up on them they had to abandon some of the runs that they had and go to the pass because they were playing catch up,” Williams said. “They are very capable of running the ball and running it well.”

Kevin Williams ruled out, but Sharrif Floyd will play
It was good news-bad news for the Vikings at defensive tackle on Friday. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier met with reporters after Friday’s practice and disclosed that Kevin Williams has been ruled out of Sunday’s game with a knee injury. On the flip side, though, Sharrif Floyd, also recovering from a knee injury, is good to go. In fact, Williams is the only Vikings player who will not suit up on Sunday because of injury.

Frazier wouldn’t commit to a starter when asked who would open the game in Williams’ stead, instead choosing to reinforce the idea that the Vikings will rotate several players in at defensive tackle throughout the game to keep everyone fresh. Floyd is listed behind Williams on the depth chart, but the Vikings could also start Fred Evans in Williams spot and have Floyd come in off the bench; Evans is listed behind Letroy Guion. Regardless, the point remains that the Vikings defensive tackle positions will be a platoon on Sunday.

Jared Allen is still motivated
Jared Allen is 31 years old, is entering his 10th season, is one of the best defensive ends in the NFL and has recorded double-digit sacks every season since 2007. But as he met with reporters in the locker room on Thursday, he made it clear he’s still motivated to play well and help his team win games.

Asked if after 10 years in the NFL opening day becomes just like another Sunday, Allen said: “Sundays are always special,” Allen said. “The day it becomes (just) another game is the day you walk away. You’re not doing yourself or your team the good service of being out there if it’s just another game. I’m always excited about it. It’s a new year, a new season. I still haven’t won a Super Bowl, so I’ve got plenty of things I still need to achieve. Every year I feel like I have to earn the respect of my colleagues, and go out and try to make a difference and help my team win football games.”

Jeff Locke, the holder, fixed some things
Blair Walsh was the best kicker in the NFL last season. He was 35 of 38 on FGs, including 10 of 10 from 50 , he blasted a team record 53 touchbacks and he was a perfect 36 of 26 on extra points. But the near-perfect Walsh missed two field goals this preseason.

The only difference in Walsh’s operation this season compared to last season is his older. Rookie punter Jeff Locke has been saddled with that responsibility. Locke was impressive punting the ball during training camp and the preseason, but some of questioned whether he’s struggled as a holder on field goals.

Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer was asked about this subject, and he confirmed that it hasn’t been perfect for Locke as the holder, but Priefer also noted that Locke has fixed some things and now the battery of long snapper Cullen Loeffler, Locke and Walsh should be set for the season opener in Detroit.

“He struggled a little bit the other night against Tennessee, but I think we’ve gotten some things fixed,” Priefer said. “We’re working on some different things and working very hard on it so hopefully we’ll be okay on Sunday.”