Fearless Prediction: Vikings-Panthers
KICKOFF: Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Andrea Kremer)
KEYS TO THE GAME: To be competitive the Panthers have to
hold their own in the trenches. It starts with getting strong
run-blocking in front of RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart
so Carolina can control the ball. QB Matt Moore won’t take many
chances deep downfield, so the Panthers likely will have to string
together long drives in order to score. Minnesota got back to
featuring RB Adrian Peterson last Sunday, letting its big offensive
line take over. The Panthers give up 137.3 rushing yards per game
and are far stronger defending the pass, so the Vikings would be
wise to set up effective play-action for QB Brett Favre.
FAST FACTS: Vikings WR/KR Percy Harvin leads all rookies
with eight touchdowns. … Carolina’s defense has forced 21
turnovers the past seven games.
- WR Bernard Berrian was limited Wednesday and Thursday because
of a hamstring injury that has bothered him for much of the
- CB Cedric Griffin was limited for a second consecutive day
because of a neck injury that also bothered him last week but did
not cause him to miss any time Sunday.
- LG Steve Hutchinson was limited for a second consecutive day
because of a shoulder injury that he has been able to play
- S Tyrell Johnson was limited for a second consecutive day
after being held out all last week and missing Sunday’s game
against Cincinnati because of a concussion.
- RT Phil Loadholt was limited for a second consecutive day by
a shoulder injury suffered Dec. 6 at Arizona. He was able to play
- CB Karl Paymah (knee/ankle) was limited for a second
consecutive day after missing last Sunday’s game.
- TE Visanthe Shiancoe was limited Wednesday and Thursday
because of rib and foot issues.
- C John Sullivan was limited Wednesday and Thursday because of
- CB Antoine Winfield, who returned last Sunday after missing
six games, remains limited in practice this week.
- WR Sidney Rice did not practice Thursday because of an
- DE Ray Edwards was added to the injury report and limited
Thursday because of an issue with his back.
- WR Muhsin Muhammad returned to practice Thursday after taking
a day off. He should play this week.
- QB Jake Delhomme (broken finger) did not practice for a
second straight day and is not likely to play this week.
- CB Richard Marshall (ankle) missed his second straight day of
practice Thursday. If he can’t go, Captain Munnerlyn will get the
start against his childhood idol Brett Favre.
- CB Captain Munnerlyn could start this week if Richard
Marshall is unable to get back on the field.
- LB Na’il Diggs practiced full for the second straight day.
- RB Jonathan Stewart practiced full on Thursday and appears
ready for this week.
Inside The Camps
The Vikings have little idea if wide receiver Percy Harvin
will be able to play Sunday in Carolina, and at this point that
probably isn’t even that big of concern.
What is worrisome is the long-term prognosis for Harvin, who
has been dealing with migraine headaches for much of this season.
Harvin, the favorite to win NFL rookie of the year honors,
missed his first game of the season Sunday against Cincinnati
because of migraines and has not practiced this week. He also
missed practice all of last week.
Harvin had missed various other practices this season
because of the intense headaches but had been able to play in
games. He went to see more doctors last Monday and was put through
tests but because the episodes are so unpredictable it has the team
“We’re attempting to look into and see if there are any
common denominators,” coach Brad Childress said of the tests Harvin
is undergoing. “He’s been having them for a good period of time.
It’s important for us to get some kind of baseline if we can,
doctor-wise, and yet still know that (the migraines) are fairly
unpredictable. We as coaches — you know, the controlling types —
we would like to control those things but that’s something beyond
my control. So I’m maturing too in the things I can control and
Harvin has suffered from migraines since he was 10 years
old. He missed two games as a sophomore at the University of
Florida. However, the episodes seem to be more frequent of late and
Childress said doctors want to rule out any other possibilities.
“You know I think (the doctors) attempt to allay their fears
in terms of other things, worse things, by asking questions,”
Childress said. “But not being a doctor, they’ve got a whole set of
kind of protocols that they are taking him through.”
The Minnesota Vikings come into this week’s game with an
NFL-high 41 sacks and face a Carolina Panthers offense that will be
without starting offensive tackles Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah, both
on injured reserve.
Not a great combination for the Panthers.
Geoff Schwartz will make his first NFL start on Sunday
Schwartz, a seventh-round pick in 2008 who spent his rookie
season on the practice squad, said the biggest problem he had
adjusting from college to the NFL was learning to line up in a
three-point stance. That’s largely because Schwartz almost never
did that at the University of Oregon, where he operated with his
hands on his knees.
“I spent three years in college never getting in a
three-point stance,” said Schwartz. “I might have taken three to
five reps ever in a three-point stance. So I focused on that last
year, just getting comfortable in that. And I worked on it in the
off-season with Jordan Gross on that. I think that’s the biggest
thing I’ve improved on is just playing from a three-point stance.”
Although it might seem like an easy change, Schwartz said
the concept takes some getting used to.
“You run-block better from a three-point stance and your
angles are a little different. I don’t know how to explain it but
it’s just a whole different game. Mainly the run blocking is
different when you’re in the three, rather than the two,” Schwartz
Schwartz spent last year on the practice squad and coaches
urged him to get stronger.
He thinks he accomplished that goal.
“You want to be on the roster, but then I realized I needed
a year to get stronger and to mentally get ready and also
physically to lift every day,” said the 6-foot-6, 331-pound
Schwartz. “I used it as an opportunity to get better. In the end it
helped me out a lot.”
Running back Jonathan Stewart, who ran behind Schwartz at
Oregon, said he’s confident his former college teammate can do the
“We go way back to the days where he had long hair,” said
Stewart. “I guess you could say he got me to the NFL (blocking for
me). He’s got great feet, that’s one of the reasons I think they
drafted him. Big guy, good feet, I think he’s going to do well this
week. He did well in college while I was in the backfield with him.
“He’s more aggressive now with his hands. I think that’s
something that Mags (offensive-line coach Dave Magazu) has been
trying to get him to do. Just being more aggressive, he’s such a
big guy, he can do a lot with his size.”
PREDICTION: Vikings 30-16