Vikings scramble as Browns offense gets major makeover

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 20, 2013 - 12:45 AM

On Wednesday morning, the Vikings stopped watching film of No. 2 quarterback Jason Campbell when the Browns announced they will start No. 3 quarterback Brian Hoyer. By Wednesday evening, the Vikings had to stop and change tapes again when the Browns traded their No. 1 running back, Trent Richardson, to Indianapolis and brought in former Broncos running back Willis McGahee for a physical.

“Without question, it definitely throws you a curveball,” said coach Leslie Frazier, whose Vikings play the Browns in a game between 0-2 teams at Mall of America Field on Sunday. “You don’t know how much watching the tape of what they’ve been doing the first two weeks will really matter. It creates some … you’re not sure. You just have to have some good rules about what you’re doing because you’re probably going to have to adjust as the game goes on. It may not be what you saw on tape.”

McGahee, 31, was signed Thursday. He’s a nine-year veteran and a four-time 1,000-yard rusher, but his 2012 season was cut short when he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament and a compression fracture in his knee and lower leg. The Broncos released him in June, but he has passed physicals for three different teams and is reportedly in good enough shape to play on Sunday despite having no on-field work since his injury.

“That was a little different,” Frazier said of the rare NFL in-season trade that sent Richardson to the Colts for a 2014 first-round draft pick. “We were watching tape and [Richardson] definitely was one of the guys we were preparing for from a defensive standpoint and then all of a sudden, he’s not there. You got to be ready to adjust.”

The Browns also have Bobby Rainey, an undrafted second-year player they picked up off the waiver wire from Baltimore, and fullback Chris Ogbonnaya. Neither one has carried the ball this year. Rainey has no NFL career carries while Ogbonnaya has 95 in five seasons.

Vikings defensive end Jared Allen joked about the unusual week of preparation, saying, “I’ve been trying to watch preseason tape of the quarterback and now I’m trying to throw darts at a board and see who the running back is going to be.”

Allen said preparing this week has been tough, but he’s assuming the Browns’ offensive schemes will remain the same.

“It doesn’t change how they’re going to block up front and it doesn’t change the fact that they’re an effective running football team,” Allen said. “They run a lot of downhill power game and they want to hit you in the mouth and that’s a fun type of football game. People hear Trent’s gone and you hear all the talk about them kicking it in for the season. That’s not the case.”

Actually, even with Richardson, the Browns weren’t an effective running team this season, averaging 56 yards per game. But Allen says he’s still wary.

“This is a humbling league,” Allen said. “If you don’t take every opponent serious, if you don’t think someone can come in — I was reminding the guys that we didn’t know who the Arizona running back was last year [LaRod Stephens-Howling], I think he ran for like a buck-fifty — so this is how this league stays successful because guys get an opportunity to shine and we just got to make sure no one shines on us.”

Stephens-Howling ran for 104 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries (5.2 yards per carry) and caught four passes for 45 yards in a 21-14 loss to the Vikings at the Metrodome a year ago.

Ellison misses practice

Rhett Ellison, the tight end/fullback who would be Adrian Peterson’s primary lead blocker at fullback with Jerome Felton serving the third and final game of his league suspension, didn’t practice again Wednesday because of a knee hyperextension.

Ellison will need to practice at least on a limited basis Friday for him to be active on Sunday. If he doesn’t play, undrafted rookie Zach Line will see his reps significantly increase.

“Zack would be the guy,” Frazier said. “He’s done a good job the first two games. And his snaps will probably go up a little bit because of Rhett’s absence. But we got some other ways we can get things done.”

Also limited in Thursday’s padded practice were: NT Fred Evans (shoulder), MLB Erin Henderson (heel), FS Harrison Smith (shoulder), C John Sullivan (knee) and DT Kevin Williams (knee).


• Backup safety and special teams player Andrew Sendejo signed a two-year contract extension.

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New England 5:30 PM
Miami 80 4th Qtr 1:25
Boston 74
LA Lakers 39 3rd Qtr
New York 47
Arizona 3 3rd Prd 16:00
Montreal 2
St. Louis 4 3rd Prd 13:00
Washington 2
Nashville 2 2nd Prd 12:33
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 0 1st Prd 15:14
Vancouver 0
Miami-Florida 54 FINAL
Florida State 55
Oakland 96 FINAL
Youngstown St 80
Cincinnati 46 FINAL
East Carolina 50
Michigan 66 1st OT 0:58
Michigan State 75
Marist 50 2nd Half 13:49
Canisius 42
Fordham 34 2nd Half 15:47
Dayton 57
Manhattan 49 2nd Half 17:12
Monmouth 26
Quinnipiac 47 2nd Half 15:45
Niagara 45
Utah 30 1st Half 2:46
USC 10
Connecticut 2 1st Half 15:35
Houston 3
California 6 1st Half 15:53
Washington 8
North Dakota St 5 1st Half 15:41
Western Ill 5
Penn State 65 FINAL
(22) Rutgers 76
(14) Texas 59 FINAL
TCU 64
Coll of Charleston 49 FINAL
Towson 71
Cornell 53 FINAL
Yale 60
Xavier 68 FINAL
Providence 57
Drexel 61 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 44
Stony Brook 60 FINAL
New Hampshire 52
Maine 52 FINAL
Albany 44
Miami-Florida 66 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
Arizona 69 FINAL
Colorado 81
Wake Forest 63 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 92
(21) Georgia 72 2nd Half 0:36
(10) Kentucky 77
Loyola-Chicago 56 FINAL
Illinois State 72
(24) Oklahoma 30 2nd Half 18:00
West Virginia 37
St Johns 28 2nd Half 17:24
Seton Hall 44
Delaware 39 2nd Half 16:51
Hofstra 36
Binghamton 27 2nd Half 12:43
UMass Lowell 50
Vermont 28 2nd Half 16:23
Hartford 30
William & Mary 39 2nd Half 11:59
Northeastern 37
Boston College 43 2nd Half 17:02
(16) North Carolina 41
Virginia 53 2nd Half 15:27
Clemson 37
(2) Connecticut 53 2nd Half 15:45
Temple 36
Arkansas 33 2nd Half 15:51
Alabama 23
Virginia Tech 48 2nd Half 12:56
Georgia Tech 48
Kansas 31 2nd Half 15:46
(3) Baylor 41
Canisius 27 2nd Half 18:37
Rider 25
Monmouth 24 2nd Half 13:51
Fairfield 30
Quinnipiac 41 2nd Half 16:40
Saint Peters 31
Butler 42 2nd Half 12:50
Creighton 37
Wichita State 37 2nd Half 17:14
Drake 34
Evansville 33 2nd Half 14:39
Indiana State 42
(18) Miss State 4 1st Half 16;23
(6) Tennessee 6
Villanova 2 1st Half 19:06
DePaul 3
Georgetown 6 1st Half 15:42
Marquette 4
North Texas 5 1st Half 15:57
Rice 7
Auburn 2 1st Half 13:43
(12) Texas A&M 10
(11) Arizona State 8 1st Half 12:08
Utah 9
Missouri State 0 1st Half 20:00
Northern Iowa 0
Michigan 11 1st Half 15:32
(15) Nebraska 7
Minnesota 14 1st Half 13:02
Northwestern 12
Wisconsin 2 1st Half 19:24
Illinois 2
Bradley 0 1st Half 20:00
Southern Ill 0
Florida 3:00 PM
(20) Iowa 3:00 PM
(5) Maryland
(1) South Carolina 3:30 PM
Ole Miss
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