Thomas likes Griffith even better up close [6:58 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'When Emmitt Thomas coached in Philadelphia and Green Bay, he always had great respect for Vikings safety Robert Griffith. Now that Thomas is the Vikings' defensive coordinator, he has an even greater appreciation for Griffith's talents. "The thing I admire about him is that from looking at people from afar, you never get the full impact," Thomas said. "When I was at Philadelphia and at Green Bay, we really loved this young man. And then coming here, he's not a disappointment. He's a heavy hitter, good cover guy and a good team player. "He is smart, but he also likes to compete. He's intense and very competitive, even in practice. He's got a great work ethic, and is the leader of our defense."'
Kent Youngblood's predictions: Vikings vs. Bills [6:57 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'Vikings 21, Buffalo 17.'
Flutie no stand-in: he deserves top billing [6:55 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'It's the belief here that Flutie still may be the most magical player in the NFL. He knows that. What drives you crazy is to hear all the whispers from newspaper columnists that teammates don't like him and how they hope he fails so Robbie can flourish. There's only one problem with that theory: When does he fail? And when does Robbie flourish?'
Once again, Flutie steps to the fore [6:54 AM]
Metro West Daily News reports: 'Here we go again, Flutie at 38 has to prove himself worthy one more time. The pressure's on. Let's say Johnson is ready in three weeks. That gives Flutie two games to produce wins and look good doing it. He was winning last year (10-5) but the the coaches didn't think he looked so good doing it. So they pulled the plug on the guy. Flutie went on record as saying he thinks the Bills would have beaten the Titans had he played. He took a lot of grief for saying so. That'll teach him to be honest.'
Culpepper adds spice to already hot Vikings offense [8:55 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Culpepper enters Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills as the first first-round draft choice to win his first six starts since 1950, when they started keeping track of such a thing.'
ESPN program lets everyone feel Bills fans' pain [8:54 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Bills fans, set your VCRs. ESPN is premiering a love letter to you, "NFL Films Presents - A Town, a Team and a Dream: The Story of the Buffalo Bills," at 3 a.m. Monday. The way things are going with the length of postseason baseball, that may be the time that Game Two of the World Series ends. The special includes a variety of NFL Films footage of the past, as well as new interviews with Bills cheerleader Tim Russert of "Meet the Press," former Buffalo News writer Vic Carucci, filmmaker Vincent Gallo ("Buffalo '66"), radio voice Van Miller and ex-Bills Jack Kemp, Bruce Smith, Jim Kelly and Paul Maguire. It also airs at 4 p.m. Monday on ESPN, and at noon and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and at 3:30 p.m. Thursday on ESPN2. Russert, Carucci and Gallo get most of the air time in the half-hour program, which discusses the pain one experiences as a Bills fan and the fantasy of what it actually would be like if they ever won the Super Bowl.'
Behind 6-0 are healthy bodies [8:09 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'Remarkably, left guard Corbin Lacina is the only starter to miss a game. He suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in the third preseason game and missed three weeks, including the season opener against Chicago.'
Ex-Bills will help Vikings with strategy [8:07 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'Northern, who will play this week at defensive tackle in a nickel-defense situation, has been working with some of the Vikings' coaches, gladly surrendering all the information he has on the Bills' scheme and their personnel. "In practice, I might see something and point how the Bills do it," Northern said. "I practiced against that offense and I know it pretty well, so there are some things I can help with . . . I'd love to help us expose something that directly helps us win the game." Lacina and Paup (who is out for the next six games with a fracture in his knee) have talked to their teammates about the habits of some of the Bills' players. "I was talking to Johnny (Randle) about some of the Bills' offensive linemen," Lacina said. "I was around those guys and know a lot of their little secrets. Knowing the personnel is big part of playing a team."'
Vikings gear up to pound away at Bills defense [8:02 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: '"They've done it extremely well, and so they are really good at it," said Vikings coach Dennis Green. "The biggest thing is that you have two uncovered linemen right in there with the nose tackle, and so the nose tackle can move a lot of different ways. It gives you an extra athlete on the field. If you don't get a lot of looks at it, you have to make a lot of decisions, and learn a lot of things in a short period of time. You don't have the continuity of what you played last week and the week before, and now you play that this week. The big thing is, it's a great run defense. That makes a big difference."'
Shorter Buffalo defensive backs face test with Moss [6:28 AM]
D and C reports: 'Moss will present enormous problems for the Bills because at 6-foot-4, he has an eight-inch height advantage on cornerback Antoine Winfield, and a six-inch gap on the other corner, Ken Irvin. In Buffalo's dime defense, the tallest of the six defensive backs is strong safety Henry Jones who stands an even 6-feet.'
Flutie in familiar role as underdog [6:26 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'Asked about losing the job to Johnson last season, Flutie said, "Well, in my mind, I don't feel I ever lost it. I felt like it was taken from me. But none of that means anything. "My role with this team right now is as the No. 2 quarterback. And my job is to fill in when he's banged up or come in at the end of ballgames, whatever it may be. ... "My job basically is as a Band-Aid right now."'
Notes [6:25 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'Perhaps the biggest reason the Buffalo Bills have the fourth-best run defense and the best defense on first down stands about 6-4 and weighs 330. His name: Ted Washington.'
Vikings-Bills: A closer look [6:23 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'The Bills make their first visit to Minnesota against the Vikings since 1979 in a game that was played at Metropolitan Stadium (Buffalo played in the Metrodome for Super Bowl XXVI).'
Larsen completes NFL debut [8:12 PM]
Norway Post reports: 'Norway's Leif Ove Dolonen Larsen played his first game in the U.S. National Football League when Buffalo Bills defeated San Diego Chargers 27-24 on Sunday. Larsen, who joined the NFL team this season after being drafted from college football, played defensive end and completed an honourable debut, according to reports.'
Bills preview [8:04 PM]
Viking Update reports: 'Expect a Vikings win, maybe even by the biggest margin of the season, which to this point has been 12 points.'
QBs Are Buffalo's Last Concern [3:55 PM]
Buffalo Post reports: 'Rob Johnson's shoulder separation and Doug Flutie's ensuing return to the huddle has sparked more passionate debate than a presidential election (isn't there one of those coming up?) and as many conspiracy theories as a death in the Kennedy family.'
Morris may receive more work [9:14 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Rookie Sammy Morris made a strong statement with 60 yards on eight carries, including an impressive 32-yard touchdown, in the Bills' 27-24 victory over the San Diego Chargers last Sunday. "It feels great to have an opportunity to make an impact on the team," said Morris, a fifth-round pick from Texas Tech. "It's nice to know the coaches have confidence in me. Hopefully it will continue." There's no reason it shouldn't.'
After 19 years, Vikings' Gary Anderson still gets a kick out of football [9:12 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: '"Gary has worked hard, and that's why he's still kicking," special teams coach Gary Zauner said. "There's a reason why Gary is still kicking so effectively . . . He's never stopped working hard, and he's in great shape. He's dedicated his career to being the best and he is."'
List long to return kickoffs [9:10 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'The Buffalo Bills are seeking their first victory in Minnesota. They are 0-2 here.'
Vikes mammoth QB Culpepper has it all [6:51 AM]
D and C reports: 'At 255 pounds, the 11th player chosen in the 1999 draft is bigger than all four of Buffalo's linebackers, and he's only 12 pounds lighter than Wiley and 18 pounds less than the other defensive end, Phil Hansen. "He's huge, and everyone says you don't know how big he is until you get out there," said Wiley. "What's incredible is that he's that fast at that weight. When I weighed 255 I wasn't that fast. "If I get to him, I'll just hold on and hopefully some other guys will come help me out."'
Vikings rely more on Smith and the running game [6:50 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'Featuring the dual threat of tailback Robert Smith and quarterback Daunte Culpepper, the Vikings are averaging 158.2 yards rushing per game.'
Team used to coming from behind [6:48 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'While it is difficult to find fault with a 6-0 start, the Vikings have identified one aspect they hope to improve Sunday against Buffalo. They have fallen behind during the first half in three games, including last week at Soldier Field. With games looming against such offensive powerhouses as St. Louis and Indianapolis, the Vikings say they need to begin games stronger.'
Flutie faces a stacked deck [8:45 PM]
ESPNet reports: 'Or, at the very least, do you act like a man and say, "I'm sorry, Doug. I gave Rob a lot of money and in order to save face, I gotta keep using him. I know you're the better man. Forgive me for treating you so poorly."'
Bills' Wiley doesn't feel the pressure of replacing Smith [8:10 PM]
AP reports: '"That's not a pressure I feel," Wiley said. "The only pressure I feel is just to do better than I've done last year and do better than the year before. Until I pass my own gauge, I could never try to be someone else, especially the greatest of all time."'
Bills Face A Long Day In The Dome [5:40 PM]
Buffalo Post reports: 'The biggest challenge facing the Buffalo Bills on Sunday isn't trying to upend Minnesota -- one of the league's two unbeaten teams -- or even getting their first road win of the season (in what's sure to be a very noisy Metrodome, no less)...'
Ostroski: Go whine to someone else [1:25 PM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'Doesn't a team that touted itself as Super Bowl contenders two months ago have high enough personal expectations to expect to be booed when it plays like the Bengals? Mr. Ostroski, your line couldn't execute a successful block on "Hollywood Squares" right now, and you have the audacity to berate the fans for daring to express with pursed lips the painfully obvious opinion that you guys might set a league record for number of quarterbacks killed in one season? Doug Flutie might be a magician on his feet, but he'll need a Star Trek transporter to disappear from the onslaught of pass rushers if he's to survive until Johnson's shoulder is healthy again.'
Up for grabs [9:03 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'If the Bills thought the Chargers' wideouts were tough, wait until they get a load of what the Minnesota Vikings have in store for them on Sunday. All-Pro wide receivers Randy Moss and Cris Carter might be the most difficult challenge of the season for the Bills' defense. "They're explosive. They can make big plays at any time," Bills coach Wade Phillips said. "I think trying to take away the big play certainly is the key to slowing them down some."'
Flutie brings new-found enthusiasm to starting job [9:01 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'According to teammates, Flutie was very vocal in practice Wednesday. For the first time in a long while, he was enjoying the game.'
White knight rides to save Bills ... again [7:24 AM]
National Post reports: 'The Bills might be best served in a two-quarterback system, because defensive co-ordinators couldn't possibly prepare for the drop-back Johnson and the scrambling Flutie. That's a question for later, though. Currently, his teammates are looking for a little abracadabra. "I just play football," Flutie said. "I have to play this game a certain way, because of my size. I do what I do. If that motivates people, great."'
Flutie stays out of debate [7:17 AM]
Toronto Globe & Mail reports: '"Doug's the consummate pro," [Bills coach Wade] Phillips said. "He's ready to play at any time. That's the great thing about Doug. You can't count on him to be ready, and I think he'll be ready [on Sunday]." Flutie said that being thrust into overtime last week was nerve-racking until the moment the ball was snapped. "I feel fine stepping in," he said. "I had some doubts on the sideline, but it's like riding a bike. You step in there, get your reads and go."'
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