Harris ready to assume post-bye role?

Napoleon Harris (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

After not playing in a game this season for the Kansas City Chiefs, Napoleon Harris could be working his way into a starting role for the Vikings in just his second game with the team.

Napoleon Harris is expected to be the Vikings' starting middle linebacker when the team returns from its bye. Vinny Ciurciu, who is more of a special teams player, started last Sunday at Chicago but was quickly replaced by Harris after the first drive.

Harris essentially played the rest of the game in the base defense but came out when the Vikings went to their nickel package. This left linebackers Chad Greenway and Ben Leber on the field, with Leber filing the middle linebacker role.

Harris was signed by the Vikings only last week after being released by Kansas City.

Harris' transition to re-learning the defense will continue as his teammates enjoy some time off. He was the Vikings' starter in the middle in 2006 but signed as a free agent with the Chiefs after that season in large part because Minnesota installed E.J. Henderson as its middle linebacker.

Henderson, though, is on season-ending injured reserve because of a foot injury. Harris has said much of the defense is the same as he remembers it, even though coordinator Mike Tomlin left after 2006 and was replaced by Leslie Frazier. Both systems are run under the principles of the Tampa-2 scheme.

NOTES

  • WR Robert Ferguson has found himself used primarily on special teams this season and has only three catches in seven games. He had a season-high two receptions in the Vikings' victory over Detroit in Week 6.

  • LB Erin Henderson, who was waived before Sunday's game at Chicago in part because he wasn't able to play due to a knee injury, has been re-signed. The Vikings then waived Rufus Alexander, who was signed off the practice squad Sunday to replace Henderson. Alexander was then re-signed to the practice squad after he cleared waivers..

  • RB Adrian Peterson's 22 carries against the Bears on Sunday was his third-highest total this season. He had 29 rushing attempts for 160 yards in Week 2 against Indianapolis and 25 for 111 yards in Week 6 against Detroit. Peterson rushed for 121 yards on Sunday.

  • WR Sidney Rice played Sunday for the first time after being inactive for three of the past four games because of a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Rice said he would get treatment on the injury during the bye week and expects to be much improved. Rice, who was expected to be a key receiver for the Vikings, has only three catches in four games active.

  • CB Benny Sapp, who has been used in a rare dime look the Vikings have shown on defense this season, was inactive for the second time in three games. Sapp has been bothered by a hamstring injury.

  • RB Chester Taylor has only 39 carries this season, but he's third on the Vikings with 18 receptions for 136 yards. That is more catches than three of the Vikings wide receivers. Aundrae Allison has nine receptions, Rice has three and Ferguson has three.

  • The off week will give several players time to rest, including receiver Bernard Berrian. Berrian has battled a sore big toe on his right foot since the preseason and also recently began having problems with a knee injury.

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