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."'
Sammy leads the way [5:28 AM]
D and C reports: 'Six games into the season, rookie Sammy Morris is the undisputed chair of the Buffalo Bills running back committee. His 5.5 yards-per-carry average is nearly double that of his closest peer, and he's the team's designated fullback no less. Still, coach Wade Phillips has no plans to disband the use of three running backs per game and make this Sammy's Show. Not yet anyway.'
Vikings getting by with limited takeaways [5:27 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'Fact is, everyone from defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas on down is preaching the need for more turnovers, either by land (fumbles) or by air (interceptions). So far, the Vikings have forced seven. Frankly, more need to come.'
Five questions: Orlando Thomas [5:26 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: '[Q:] How often do referees get pass interference calls wrong? [A:] With us, all the time. Against Chicago [last Sunday night] we should've had five called our way. We never get calls; we go into every game thinking that if there are 10 calls we should get, we might get three of them.'
Vikings notes [5:24 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: '[Former Bills linebacker Gabe] Northern compiled 10 1/2 sacks with the Bills, playing mostly at outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He has gained 20 pounds and is now a 260-pound defensive end, although the Vikings have used him at linebacker during practice.'
Smith shows his versatility [5:22 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'The Vikings average 6.6 yards a first-down play, trailing only the St. Louis Rams (8.3 yards), and Smith is one of the primary reasons. He's moving piles to gain a few extra yards, and he's showcasing his inside running skills. Nearly 37 percent of his rushing attempts have gone up the middle, and only seven carries have lost yardage.'
Northern lights up at chance [5:19 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'Gabe Northern is to ready to show the Buffalo Bills what they're missing. "It's like when you break up with your girlfriend," [explained] Northern, who spent 1996-99 with the Bills. "You want to get a better girlfriend to show her she should have stayed with you."'
Kleinsasser's statistics don't reflect his impact [5:17 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'To best assess Jim Kleinsasser's contribution to the Vikings this season, gloss right past his statistics. Go straight for Robert Smith's numbers. While Kleinsasser has touched the ball few times this season, the 6-foot-3, 280-pound fullback is clearing the way for Smith, who has three 100-yard rushing games and is fifth in the NFL in rushing yardage. "Fullbacks in the (NFL) just don't carry the ball much, they block and Jimmy is doing a very good job of what he's supposed to be doing," coach Dennis Green said. "I love what he's doing for us."'
Even if Flutie comes through, Bills face end of an era [9:04 PM]
SportsWritersDirect reports: 'The Bills have done as good a job as any team in dealing with the salary cap, but even they may be finally paying the piper for all the good times of the last decade.'
Flutie says he's only filling in until Johnson returns [8:54 PM]
AP reports: 'Although there had been times since when he publicly questioned his demotion, Flutie made every effort to defuse any hint of a quarterback controversy on Wednesday. "I'm the backup and that's the way it is," he said when asked if he might remain the starter.'
Christie puts problems behind him [8:34 PM]
AP reports: 'Christie, who has two children, was going through marital difficulties last year. "I think last year pretty much culminated into a situation where I was pretty miserable," he said. "It was hard to get my mind right for games. But I think at this point it's a lot better."'
Spriggs looks like a keeper at right tackle [9:11 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Coach Wade Phillips said Spriggs will remain a starter at right tackle when the Bills travel to Minnesota Sunday to take on the unbeaten Vikings. "I thought Marcus came in and did a good job for us," Phillips said this week. "He's not perfect yet certainly, and we all got to get better. But he came in and did some good things for us, and I expect him to get better and better as he plays more."'
Homeless get high-powered advocates [9:11 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Homeless people got a boost from Buffalo Bills tight end Jay Riemersma and Mayor Anthony M. Masiello on Tuesday morning at the launch of the Buffalo City Mission's second fall fund-raising campaign. Masiello proclaimed this week Buffalo City Mission Week, as the campaign sets a $1.2 million goal, a $200,000 increase over last year. Riemersma has agreed to be spokesman for the campaign, fueled by the motto "Restore hope, dignity and lives."'
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