Griffth, Thomas form a safety net for each other [7:54 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'Robert Griffith remembers sitting in the Vikings' locker room, watching rookie safety Orlando Thomas act like he owned Winter Park. It was 1995, and Griffith, then in his second season with the Vikings, wasn't quite sure what to make of the second-round draft pick from Southwestern Louisiana. "When O.T. first joined the team during his rookie year, I thought he was a loudmouth," Griffith said. "He came in with (cornerback) Corey Fuller, and there was a lot of trash talking by the two of them. "I was like, wait a minute, look at these rookies. I know I'm in my second year, but look at this loudmouth country dude (Thomas). I said, 'He'd better be good.'" Five years and 914 combined tackles later, Thomas and Griffith have overcome vastly different beginnings to become two of the closest friends on the team. More important for the Vikings, the two safeties held together the defense when it struggled in past years. This season, they are peaking together, leading a resurgence in the unit that has helped the team to an undefeated start.'
Success, the small-market way [7:52 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'So how, in this age of free agency, have the Vikings and Bills remained among the top teams in their conferences? There are two primary reasons. First, neither team was built in a day with players purchased from other clubs. And, second, each team has maintained continuity inside the organization.'
Vikings-Bills matchup [7:50 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'Doug Flutie will have the attention of his teammates. Many of them believe he should be the starter anyway. Expect to see a spirited Buffalo effort with Flutie playing a full game. While he'll have the support of his teammates, it's unknown how well Flutie will perform over the duration of an entire game. He looked good in overtime against San Diego. But he'll have shake some rust as a runner and a passer today. Watch for him to try to get the Vikings' defense nervous by running early. Flutie, 38 on Monday, can be a dangerous weapon, but he must prove can still be an effective starter.'
Flutie may give Bills lift [7:14 AM]
D and C reports: '"It's a lot more fun being on the field throwing the ball than standing on the sideline cheerleading," said Flutie, who turns 38 tomorrow. "I enjoy Sundays. I enjoy competing. But the bottom line is that we have to win a game. It's important we get to 4-3 rather than fall to 3-4."'
'Flutieball' gives Bills hope [7:13 AM]
D and C reports: '"We've had a similar offense the last two years and six games. That won't change, it's how they play us," Phillips said. "Doug has different strengths than Rob. How they try to play us and stop his strengths (is the key). It's the same plays but they're run differently at times because of the quarterback." And sometimes, things just happen.'
Q&A: Steve Christie [7:11 AM]
D and C reports: 'If you were the NFL commissioner, what would be the primary thing you would try to change about the game? "I would say the fields. There's a lot of complaining about Astro-turf, but I think there should be a lot more attention paid to the grass fields because a lot of them are in poor shape. I would think that your venue for such a game, the surface, for the benefit of the players, should be much better. The Jets' field was terrible. Last year, Baltimore and Washington were terrible. If you can't do grass, then don't do it. Jay Riemersma went down in New York, and that's a sandbox. And that's in New York where the commissioner is. That's not acceptable. Our field is pretty good, it's layered, it's very good."'
Scouting report [7:09 AM]
D and C reports: 'This is the 12th time since the 1970 merger that Buffalo has played an undefeated team through at least four games. The Bills are 8-3 in such games, including wins in five in a row. All three losses have been to unbeaten Miami teams.'
6-0 Vikes fear Flutie [7:07 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'Many in Buffalo, coach Phillips included, seem to be toning down the return of Flutie. It's part of the lingering hangover of Phillips' controversial decision to hand the job to Johnson prior to the Bills playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans this past January. Flutie fumed and sulked at the time and later said the Bills would have defeated the Titans had he started. He has been relegated to Johnson's backup since. When meeting with Buffalo media this week, Flutie, who is 17-8 as a starter with the Bills, bit his lip and stuck to the company line. But in a conference call with Minnesota reporters, he said the demotion still eats at him.'
New gunslinger in town [7:05 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'The soon-to-be-outdated NFL textbook suggests that a quarterback should only carry the ball on draws, sneaks and broken plays. It also says 6-foot-5, 255-pound players are supposed to fill positions such as linebacker and perhaps fullback. Oldtime students of the game, meet Daunte Culpepper.'
The last word [7:02 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'Doug Flutie doesn't look like Rob Johnson, act like Rob Johnson or throw like Rob Johnson. He can't step back and pass. He can't be the prototypical NFL quarterback. He isn't tall enough or strong enough. He probably can't even start on a full-time basis anymore. But there is something inside Flutie that Johnson may never have or even comprehend. And that is an inherent understanding of what it takes to win a football game and how to go about accomplishing it. In this, Flutie is commanding. In this, Johnson remains a neophyte with skill but not guile.'
Vikings Anderson an unlikely scoring king [6:59 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'Soon, perhaps as early as the Vikings' game this afternoon against Buffalo, the kicker who grew up playing soccer and rugby in South Africa will lay claim to one of the most-sacred records in American sports. Anderson is 10 points away from eclipsing Blanda's NFL record of 2,002 career points, a milestone compiled over 26 seasons by a player who doubled as a quarterback during a more rugged era of professional football.'
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.'
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