Four questions about the Vikings and Bears

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 15, 2011 - 12:50 AM

Among them: What is the biggest challenge for the Vikings defense?

hide

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte

Photo: Nuccio Dinuzzo, Mct

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

As the Vikings head into Sunday's game against the Bears, here are four questions we're trying to answer.

1 What can we expect out of second-year cornerback Chris Cook?

Antoine Winfield missed practice again Friday and is listed as doubtful for Sunday. Winfield hasn't practiced since Sept. 30, continuing to recover from neck stiffness.

That's left Cook to assume a heightened role. And last week, he was up to the challenge, continuing to emerge as a difference-maker in coverage. In recent weeks, Cook has shown promising moments against both Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, success that brings an obvious psychological boost.

"His confidence has really grown," coach Leslie Frazier said. "He's a big, fast, physical guy who has become a much better tackler as well -- which is a complement to his cover skills. We knew he could cover, but he's tackling better. And that's what we need in our scheme."

If Winfield's out, Cook will start opposite Cedric Griffin and will head into the game with far more momentum than Bears receivers Johnny Knox, Devin Hester and Roy Williams.

Said Cook: "Right now, my confidence is at an all-time high. And I think it's only going to go up."

2 Just how vulnerable is the Bears defense these days?

Chicago ranks 29th in the NFL in total defense, allowing 419.6 yards per game. Over the past two weeks -- in a home victory over Carolina and a loss at Detroit -- the Bears have allowed 938 total yards, including nine plays of at least 25 yards.

As if that wasn't bad enough, they're now reshuffling their lineup, too. In the secondary, safeties Chris Harris and Brandon Meriweather are being pulled from the starting lineup, replaced by Chris Conte and Major Wright.

And adding injury to insult, defensive end Julius Peppers might be limited at best Sunday night if he plays at all. Peppers sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Monday night and hasn't practiced all week.

The Bears rank 21st in the league in sacks with nine, a half-sack ahead of Jared Allen's individual total. Translation: If Donovan McNabb can't get into a rhythm Sunday, hope for his resurgence might be totally shot.

3 Are there any offensive surprises up the Vikings' sleeve this week?

It's not so much a surprise as it is a renewed effort to get Lorenzo Booker involved. Booker had two catches for 25 yards and added a 25-yard run in last week's victory over Arizona.

"Book is definitely a weapon," offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said "We were happy to get him some touches the other day. Looking back, we probably would have had more production if we would have done that earlier in the year."

Booker continues to impress the coaching staff not just with his speed but with his overall instincts. He's reliable in pass protection, a dangerous receiver and should be in line to see more action as a ball carrier.

It's also worth noting that Vikings receiver Percy Harvin returned to practice Friday after being held out Thursday because of sore ribs. Harvin is listed as questionable for Sunday but should be ready.

4 What is the biggest key for the Vikings defense this week?

So much talk has centered around the Bears' shaky offensive line and the potential for Vikings ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison to have a field day. But task No. 1 for the Vikings will be containing Bears back Matt Forte.

Forte has touched the ball on 112 of the Bears' 294 offensive plays this season and leads NFL running backs in yards from scrimmage (785). His 5.4-yards-per-carry average ranks fourth in the league among backs with at least 30 attempts. Forte also has 30 catches, second most of any NFL back.

Discipline will be key for linebackers Chad Greenway, E.J. Henderson and Erin Henderson to keep Forte in check.

  • VIKINGS NOTES

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 102 FINAL
New York 91
Oklahoma City 114 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Cleveland 91 FINAL
Miami 101
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Chicago
Golden State 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
DePaul 69 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 72
Ohio 58 FINAL
Nebraska 71
Colorado 50 2nd Half 7:46
Hawaii 58
George Washington 7:30 PM
Wichita State
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close