Vikings vs. Titans: a snapshot look

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 5, 2012 - 11:08 PM
Our snapshot look at the Vikings as they prepare for Sunday's game against the Titans.

PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Percy Harvin was all smiles on Monday, a day after his worst statistical game of 2012. Harvin had only three catches for 22 yards and didn't touch the ball in the second half. But with the Lions aligning their defense with the purpose of bracketing and containing Harvin, the Vikings receiver realized just how much attention he commanded, which helped open things up for Adrian Peterson (21 carries, 102 yards).

"I knew it was bad," Harvin said. "But watching the tape, I saw it even more, how much they paid attention to me."

And that's OK.

"If we can notice that, there are a lot of other guys with one-on-one matchups," Harvin added. "Hey, we won the game. I was one of the happiest guys in the locker room."

Now the Vikings need to find more creative ways to get Harvin involved. Especially with Tennessee coach Mike Munchak admitting he would look at the Lions' strategy and try to copycat some things that fit the Titans' system.

"When there's a weapon like him, that's exactly what you need to do," Munchak said. "If you don't, you're not doing your job right."

MOST PRESSING QUESTION

Will the Vikings offense ever take the top off a bad defense?

In Week 1, the Bears torched Indianapolis for seven passing plays of 20 yards or more. So we figured the Vikings would have a chance to similarly attack down the field in Week 2.

But then they dinked and dunked against the Colts and didn't have a pass play of more than 20 yards.

In Week 3, the Titans tortured the Lions' mediocre secondary, throwing for 378 yards, including 188 on their four longest passing plays. So we figured the Vikings could make things happen through the air against Detroit as well.

But Christian Ponder needed 31 passing plays (16 completions, 10 incompletions, two sacks, two pass interference penalties and a quarterback scramble) to amass 111 passing yards.

So maybe there shouldn't be overwhelming optimism that the Vikings will overwhelm a Titans defense that's allowed opposing quarterbacks to post a 118.3 rating, completing 75.3 percent of their passes for 1,172 yards with 10 touchdowns and only one interception.

KEEP AN EYE ON ... CHRISTIAN PONDER and JARED ALLEN

The second-year quarterback is listed as probable because of some lingering soreness in his right knee. And the coaching staff continues to downplay the severity of Ponder's pain with Frazier asserting again on Friday that his quarterback looks and feels fine.

But in the middle of the week, Ponder seemed gimpy on the move during portions of practice that were open to the media.

So is it possible his mobility will be hindered?

Both Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave have admitted that Ponder was most limited on Wednesday.

"He was hopping around a little bit," Musgrave said.

As for Allen, he sat out two practices because of an injured groin and was limited on Friday. He is probable for Sunday's game but could cede reps to Everson Griffen if his groin starts giving him any difficulty.

TITANS SCOOP

The Titans have been on the road twice this season. And twice they've been buried -- 38-10 at San Diego and 38-14 at Houston. This should be a reminder to the Vikings of the opportunity that exists to obliterate a struggling team's confidence.

Tennessee has been outscored 61-33 in the first half this season. And the Titans defense has struggled to fluster opposing offenses much at all with only six sacks and one takeaway.

INJURIES AND FINES

After a two-week absence because of a concussion, linebacker Erin Henderson should return to the starting lineup on Sunday, yet will cede his role in the nickel defense, at least temporarily, to Jasper Brinkley.

Other Vikings starters on the injury report: Antoine Winfield (probable, knee), receiver Michael Jenkins (questionable, ribs) and left guard Charlie Johnson (probable, low back).

In the fine department, linebacker Chad Greenway was hit with a $21,000 punishment for his fourth-quarter shoulder-to-head hit last weekend on Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Greenway acknowledged after the game he expected a fine. But he said on Friday that he will appeal the amount.

Cornerback Josh Robinson, meanwhile, was not fined for his body slam of Nate Burleson, a tackle that resulted in a 15-yard personal foul penalty.

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