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Scouting report: Vikings

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The Minnesota Vikings are 3-4 this season coming off a bye week. The Vikings' defense is giving up only 70.7 rushing yards per game but is allowing 290.1 passing yards per game.

Head coach Brad Childress is in his third season leading the Vikings and has a 17-22 overall record.

OFFENSE

Quarterback: Tavaris Jackson began the year as the Vikings' starter, but after opening the season with two losses, he was benched in favor of veteran Gus Frerotte. Since taking over the starting role in Week 3, Frerotte owns a 3-2 record and has thrown for 1,286 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Running back: The Vikings hit the jackpot when they landed Adrian Peterson with the seventh overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Peterson contributed immediately, rushing for 1,341 yards and earning the starting nod for the NFC in the Pro Bowl. He also set the NFL single-game rushing mark with 296 yards last season versus the San Diego Chargers. Peterson has 684 yards and five touchdowns through seven games this season. Chester Taylor teamed with Peterson in 2007 to set a new Vikings' record for rushing yards by a duo with 2,185 yards between the two of them. Taylor has rushed for 144 yards and one touchdown this season.

Wide receiver/tight end: The Vikings signed receiver Bernard Berrian in the offseason after he caught a career-best 71 passes in 2007 with the Chicago Bears. Berrian has 28 receptions for 528 yards and three touchdowns this season. Wideout Bobby Wade leads the team in receptions with 30 and has racked up 347 yards. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe has not missed a game in his five NFL seasons. He caught the Vikings' longest pass of the year in 2007, a 79-yarder against Oakland. Shiancoe has 17 receptions for 223 yards and three touchdowns this season.

Offensive line: The Vikings' offensive line helped the team rank first in rushing in the NFL in 2007. Left tackle Bryant McKinnie was drafted No. 7 overall in the 2002 NFL Draft out of Miami and was elected as a Pro Bowl alternate after the 2007 season. Left guard Steve Hutchinson has been elected to the NFC Pro Bowl squad for the past five seasons. Hutchinson also started in Super Bowl XL when he was with the Seattle Seahawks. Center Matt Birk earned a trip to his sixth Pro Bowl after the 2007 season. He also was named to the NFL's All-Interview team in 2005 and 2006 for being cooperative with and providing insightful information to the media. Birk, a Minnesota native, started all 16 games for the sixth time in his career in 2007. Right guard Anthony Herrera is in his fifth season in the NFL. Right tackle Ryan Cook was selected in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft and started all 16 games in 2007.

DEFENSE
Defensive line: The Vikings boast one of the best defensive lines in all of football with six Pro Bowl seasons among their starting four. The 2007 NFL sacks leader, defensive end Jared Allen, was brought in via a trade with Kansas City during the offseason. Allen was a starter for the AFC squad in the Pro Bowl last year and has 22 total tackles with five sacks this season. End Ray Edwards was tied for the team lead in sacks a year ago and has 19 tackles and 0.5 sacks this season. Defensive tackle Pat Williams, a two-time Pro Bowler, is in his 12th year in the league and has 26 tackles this season. His partner in the middle of the line, tackle Kevin Williams, is a three-time Pro Bowler who already has 32 tackles and six sacks. Both Williamses were starters for the NFC in the 2008 Pro Bowl.

Linebacker: Outside linebacker Chad Greenway, a first-round draft pick in 2006, leads the Vikings in tackles this season with 49. He also has one sack on the year. Fellow outside 'backer Ben Leber is in his seventh season in the NFL and has 23 tackles and one interception this season. Napoleon Harris, acquired by the Vikings on Oct. 16 after being cut by the Kansas City Chiefs two days earlier, mans the middle linebacker spot. He has five tackles in his one game in Minnesota this season. Harris replaces E.J. Henderson, who had 27 tackles and one sack this season before being placed on injured reserve on Oct. 6.

Secondary: The Vikings have a talented secondary led by four-time Pro Bowl strong safety Darren Sharper, who is tied for fifth in NFL history with eight career interceptions returned for touchdowns and has more than 1,000 yards on interception returns in his career. Sharper, the brother of former Texans linebacker Jamie Sharper, was a starter for the NFC in the Pro Bowl last season and has 26 tackles so far this season.

Free safety Tyrell Johnson has 23 tackles and one interception on the year. Safety Madieu Williams, a major Vikings free agent signing from the Cincinnati Bengals this offseason, is close to suiting up for the first time since suffering a neck injury this preseason. Cornerback Antoine Winfield has 13 interceptions and five fumble recoveries in 56 games played with the Vikings. This season, he has 29 tackles, two sacks and one interception. Corner Cedric Griffin, a second-round pick in the 2006 draft, is second on the team with 42 tackles this season.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Returning: Running back Maurice Hicks has returned 18 kickoffs for 407 yards in 2008, giving him a 22.6-yard average. Cornerback Charles Gordon and wide receiver Aundrae Allison return punts for the Vikings with a combined 4.8-yard average.

Kicking: Kicker Ryan Longwell has made 16-of-19 field goal attempts this season, giving him an 84.2 field goal conversion rate. Punter Chris Kluwe has a 48.1-yard punting average this season with 10 punts downed inside the 20. The Vikings allowed two punt returns for touchdowns at New Orleans earlier this season.

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