Player in the spotlight
Kevin Williams will start his 158th game on Sunday, passing Hall of Famer Alan Page for most career starts by a Vikings defensive tackle. Williams trails only Jim Marshall (270) and Carl Eller (201) for most starts by a defensive lineman.
“It’s a blessing to be healthy and to make that many starts,” Williams said. “It’s awesome to be able to start that long and play that well in the NFL nowadays.”
In 11 seasons, Williams has missed only three games because of injury — two in 2005 and the season opener in Detroit two weeks ago. Asked for his secret to staying healthy and being able to play through pain, Williams said, “Maybe being breast fed helped a lot. They say you’re getting the best nutrients you can get [laughing]. I’m just blessed that I’ve been able to do it. I guess the good Lord is [responsible] for that.”
Williams has been named first-team All-Pro five times in his career. He tied an NFL record for interceptions by a defensive tackle last week when he picked off his fifth career pass.
“To be able to stay in the league and be effective this long is a tremendous feeling,” he said.
Keep an eye on
The Vikings generated four takeaways in the loss to Chicago, which is a positive sign for the defense. The defensive line produced three turnovers, including a sack-strip by Jared Allen that resulted in Brian Robison’s 61-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
Letroy Guion’s fourth-quarter forced fumble and recovery got overshadowed by the late-game collapse, but that play showed a glimpse of Guion’s potential.
“He’s shown at times that he can be a dominant guy,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “We’re always looking for consistent play from Letroy.”
On his takeaway, Guion ran an inside stunt, knocked the fullback backward and chased down Matt Forte from behind. He ripped the ball out of Forte’s arms while falling to the ground.
“It’s one of those plays where you do everything right and stuff falls your way,” Guion said.
Most pressing question
The Vikings had a chance to put the game away last week in the fourth quarter, but they managed only six points on two takeaways. The Vikings finished the game 0-for-3 in red-zone opportunities as far as scoring TDs.
Kicker Blair Walsh is a valuable weapon, especially on long field goals, but the Vikings need to convert scoring chances into TDs vs. a Browns team that has allowed 37 points in two games.
“We just need to execute,” running back Adrian Peterson said. “It’s simple. I feel like we stop ourselves offensively. That’s what we did in that [Chicago] game.”
The Vikings probably found little use studying film of Cleveland’s first two games this season. On Sunday, the Browns offense will line up with a new quarterback (Brian Hoyer), new running back (Willis McGahee) and new No. 1 wide receiver (Josh Gordon). Other than that …
“You can only speculate how different it will be,” Frazier said. “We’ll have to see as the game goes on exactly who the Browns are with some of the new faces in their offense.”
The Vikings are getting thin at fullback. Jerome Felton will serve the final game of his suspension Sunday and tight end/fullback Rhett Ellison, left, was declared out because of a knee injury. That means rookie Zach Line and tight end John Carlson will share fullback duties.
Wide receiver Greg Jennings missed practice Friday to deal with a personal matter, but he is expected to play Sunday.