Last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Vikings got their running game back on track as Adrian Peterson logged his best game since Week 10 at home against Detroit and the Vikings as a team rushed the ball more than had in the previous pair of games.
The resurgence in the rushing game comes at a good time for the Vikings because this week they hit the road and will face a talented Carolina secondary that features a pair of hard-hitting safeties and a crop of collision-happy and ball-hawking CBs.
“They are a downhill playing crowd,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said of Carolina’s secondary. “Knowing (head coach) John (Fox) is a defensive guy and a former secondary coach, I know how he values those guys and how they play.
“Whether it was back in the day of Danny Manning being there or (Mike) Minter, those guys have always played with an aggressive mindset and mentality. Rarely do you see them put defensive backs on the field that don’t play that way.”
The 2009 version of the Panthers secondary fits the mold of a traditional John Fox-coached unit. They rank 6th in yards allowed and have top 5 rankings in TDs allowed (13), INTs (18) and opponents passer rating (73.1).
From an individual standpoint, the Vikings have some familiarity with this unit. CB Chris Gamble and safeties Chris Harris and Charles Godfrey all started last year at the Metrodome against the Vikings and they’ll also be on the field this Sunday night. The other starting CB – Richard Marshall – also played against the Vikings last year as a nickel back. Quinton Teal and Dante Wesley are 2 other players who will likely suit up this week that also played in last year’s contest.
“I think they do a great job with their scheme,” Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “I know we’ve played against Gamble for a while. No pun intended, but he does like to gamble. He does like to sit on some routes, which has helped him over his career to be able to make big plays, to be able to get his hands on balls. (Richard) Marshall on the other side. I think they have some good players.”
Against the Vikings last year, Carolina’s secondary yielded just 186 net yards passing, intercepted Gus Frerotte once and also registered 1 of the club’s 3 sacks when Godfrey brought Frerotte down behind the line of scrimmage.
Against the Vikings this year, Carolina has an added advantage – they’re playing at home. Given their aggressive style, expect this unit to be amped up as they go against Brett Favre and Co.
“It will be a tough atmosphere for us that we have to respond to, no different than Arizona,” Favre said. “If we don’t rise up to the occasion against their defense, before we know it, we’ll be in the same situation. I don’t mean to speak for the other phases of our team.
“We have to handle our business and that is going to be tough enough.”
Here’s a closer look at the personnel in Carolina’s secondary:
– Gamble was a 1st round pick of the Panthers out of Ohio State and has had an outstanding career to this point. He’s 2nd in club history in INTs with 24 and he’s got 4 of them this season. Last year at the Metrodome, he picked off Gus Frerotte.
— The other starting CB, Marshall, led the club in special teams tackles last season and this year he has 3 INTs and 67 tackles.
— Godfrey – Registered his 1st career sack against the Vikings last season and is a fierce tackler with 2 forced fumbles this season.
— Speaking of forced fumbles, one of the league’s best at forcing fumbles is the other starting S – Chris Harris. He had 8 forced fumbles in 2007 and has 4 of them over the past 2 seasons. Harris also has 236 tackles since 2007 and has 1 INT this year.
Tags: Darrell Bevell
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