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Vikings Defense Focused on Containing Lacy

The Vikings defense will be up against a stern test Sunday when it squares off against the Packers offense.

Green Bay has plenty of weapons including quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Jordy Nelson, but Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune wrote that stopping running back Eddie Lacy could be crucial to getting a win.

Krammer chatted with Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr and noted that shutting down Lacy could help the Vikings focus solely on Rodgers.

All eyes rightfully will be on Rodgers when the Vikings defense takes the field Sunday for the first regular-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium. And if Green Bay's season-opening victory against Jacksonville is any indication, the Packers will look to create space.

Both of Lacy's biggest gains last week came in three-receiver sets with the Jaguars spread out, including a 17-yard catch and run, in which he shed safety Johnathan Cyprien like a cheap coat, as well as a 28-yard run off right tackle.

"One of our focuses is 'nickel run' fits," Barr said. "Anytime we bring Captain [Munnerlyn], the little guy, in, we have to make sure we're sound in those fits. They like those 'queens' looks, where they put the fullback and the running back back there with three wide receivers and like to run the ball and create extra gaps."

The Vikings would like to duplicate the Jan. 3 success in the division-clinching 20-13 victory at Lambeau Field, where Lacy was held to only 34 yards on 13 carries. Stopping the run, defensive end Brian Robison said, was the key to sacking Rodgers five times in the game.

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Stephen's dedication helps him see the field

As a seventh-round pick, Shamar Stephen knows that life in the NFL isn't guaranteed.

But the Vikings defensive tackle has relied on hard work and dedication to earn playing time with the Vikings, including his fourth career start Sunday in Tennessee.

John Holler of Viking Update spoke with Stephen about his increased role since being drafted by the Vikings in 2014.

Holler wrote:* *

*Two years later, Stephen has made the impression he was looking to as a rookie and has become a player whose roster spot has never been in jeopardy of being lost. He has become a valued member of the Vikings' defensive tackle rotation because he has learned to embrace the defense that Zimmer and George Edwards have installed. *

"I've been working hard to be prepared to come in when they ask me to, whether it's for a few plays here or there or for most of the game," Stephen said. "In this defense, we're all asked to play a role, and I prepare for whatever role I'm asked to play that week, regardless of how big or small it is."

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