Peppers looking to dominate Vikes’ McKinnie again
The last time he lined up across from mountainous Minnesota left
tackle Bryant McKinnie, Julius Peppers had his way.
Playing defensive end for Carolina last December, Peppers had
one sack, one batted pass, three hits and five hurries on Vikings
quarterback Brett Favre. One Panthers teammate said Peppers was
playing ”possessed” and McKinnie, after a false start and a
holding penalty, was benched at the end of the third quarter.
Peppers signed a six-year contract with Chicago in March worth
as much as $91.5 million, including $42 million guaranteed for a
guy whose 83 sacks in 130 games since 2002 are the third-most in
the NFL during that span.
The first of two now-annual matchups against McKinnie and
Minnesota will arrive Sunday.
”That’s a guy that definitely has to get game-planned,
Peppers,” Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. ”I mean, just
hearing his name you already know the type of accomplishments, the
type of terror he brings to offenses. So he has to be contained.
You can’t have no wild lion running around the neighborhood, you
know? You’ve got to go out there and get out the
The Bears use Peppers on both sides, so right tackle Phil
Loadholt must get prepared to block him, too. But McKinnie is
expected to have the bulk of the responsibility.
”No doubt Bryant had a tough game last year,” Favre said.
”And really this year you could point to any one of us and say,
‘This guy has struggled. This guy has struggled.’ Moreso than last
year. So Bryant would probably be the first to tell you he could
protect a little bit better. I could make better decisions. We
could run better routes. We could call better plays. We could do
all those things.”
Favre said he’s been talking with McKinnie this week, even
teasing him a bit about the big challenge.
”He’s ready for it,” Favre said. ”Now, he’s playing against a
great football player who will win his fair amount of plays. I
don’t know if that means a sack or what. So he’s got a huge
challenge. And he’ll line up on both sides so Phil will have a huge
challenge as well. This guy is a premier player so to think we’re
going to keep him out the whole time may be asking a little too
much, but I think all of our guys are ready for the
Peppers dismissed his past dominance of the 6-foot-8, 335-pound
”I really don’t want to get into talking about last year,”
Peppers said. ”It’s a whole new season against players that have
improved. I’ve improved in different things. I’m playing on a
different team, different scheme. So last year was last year. We’re
looking forward to playing the Minnesota Vikings of 2010.”
McKinnie has been unavailable for comment this week. Last year,
he downplayed the apparent ease with which Peppers moved around
him, crediting him for the sack but not much else. Instead,
McKinnie blamed himself for being distracted by penalties and
focusing too much on footwork.
”It was entirely too much thinking going on,” McKinnie said
The Vikings will certainly give him plenty of help, whether with
tight ends or running backs.
But coach Brad Childress summed it up best: ”Sometimes you’ve
got to stand by yourself because nobody’s going to be left in the
Peppers has only two sacks in eight games, but the Bears have
credited him with 12 quarterback hurries. The 6-foot-7, 283-pound
Peppers, who came into the league the same year as McKinnie, also
has three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and one interception
for the 5-3 Bears.
”I’ve been pleased. The numbers aren’t where we would like them
to be, but those things will come,” Peppers said. ”But other than
that, I think it’s been a great season. I think it’s been one of my
better seasons playing the position overall, rushing and playing
the run and just being active on the field.”
Like Peppers, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen can relate to
having to be patient with the sack numbers.
Allen had only one sack in the first six games until getting 2
1/2 last week, but both players expressed an All-Pro’s confidence
in their own performance.
”I pride myself in being a complete player, not just a pass
rusher,” Peppers said.
”I kind of don’t like how defensive ends these days are solely
judged on your pass-rushing skills,” he said. ”That’s one thing I
really like about Julius is he’s been an all-around guy for so many
years. He seems like he has a niche for making big plays, whether
it’s tackling or forcing the fumble. He’s always made his presence
felt on the field and as a fan of the sport, as a fan of the
position, you look at that and admire that.”