Sunday notebook: Youngsters inspire veterans

Jared Allen (Jim Mone/AP)

It was a turn of events at the end of the Vikings' last preseason game when the young players got the veterans off their seats to celebrate a goal-line stand. Jared Allen and Leslie Frazier talked about that, and the defense will only get stronger against the Texans. Plus, numerous other notes and quotes, including a missed opportunity for a former Vikings great.

Youth and enthusiasm often go together, but during the Vikings' second preseason game the roles were reversed. After a relatively short night for the starters, they took their usual preseason spot along the sideline and on the benches.

By the end of the fourth quarter, however, it was the veterans who were running onto the field to congratulate the young players.

With the Vikings leading 17-14 against the Kansas City Chiefs, the rookies and other roster hopefuls made a goal-line stand reminiscent of many we've experienced from the veterans over the last couple of years.

"It's huge," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said when asked about that series of game-deciding plays. "As a defense, we talk about defending a blade of grass. Just give us a chance to defend a blade of grass. For the young guys to buy into that this early and go out and do what they did gets you excited and makes you feel good about those guys."

With 55 seconds to go, the Chiefs were facing first-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Defensive end Martail Burnett stuffed running back Javaris Williams for no gain. On second down, safety Jamarca Sanford got fullback Jed Collins out of bounds before he reached the goal line. Burnett and Jimmy Kennedy kept running back Jackie Battle from crossing the goal line on a third-down run, and on fourth down Ashley Lelie was forced out of the back of the end zone to preserve the Minnesota win.

"As far as depth, this is the best depth of any team I've been on. You saw our backups in there with a goal-line stand. Four plays on the 1-yard line. That was pretty impressive," defensive end Jared Allen said. "I think that's what makes a quality team is the people playing behind you. As you know, injuries and fatigue are part of this league. You can't expect Pat or Kevin to play 80 plays a game, or 60 plays a game. You've got to have good quality backups rolling in and our young guys are playing well. We got E.J. (Henderson) back so I like where we're at right now. We're firing pretty well on all cylinders."

Allen was one of the veteran defensive linemen that rushed the field following that last-second goal-line stand and congratulated the younger players.

"It was awesome to see Pat Williams and Kevin Williams and all those guys cheering for them and rooting them on," Frazier said. "We've seen our number ones do that before and now to get the young guys winning as well is great for our defense and our team."

DEFENSE GETS STRONGER

Pat Williams hasn't played yet this preseason, but that will change on Monday night, according to defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who said Williams sitting out the first two preseason games had nothing to do with an injury.

"Pat's played many, many preseason games. It's not as important for him as it is for some of our younger guys," Frazier said. "The third preseason game is the one that he'll play in. It's nothing to do with him physically or anything. It's just a decision that we've made."

Defensive end Jared Allen, another Pro Bowl player, will also return to the field. Allen missed last week's preseason game against the Chiefs with an ankle injury but likely would have played if it were a regular-season game.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY

Last week, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Seniors Committee convened to select the two way-back-when players that will be among the finalists next January when the full voting contingent decides the 2010 inductees into football's highest honor. The Seniors Committee chose Lions cornerback Dick LeBeau and Broncos running back Floyd Little. It was another missed opportunity for former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff, who didn't miss any opportunities to play during his days in purple

Tingelhoff started 240 consecutive games, never missing a start in his 17 seasons and was named All-Pro seven consecutive seasons. He also played in six consecutive Pro Bowls and was honored as the NFL's top blocker in 1969. He was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2001.

NOTES

  • Brett Favre's Vikings jersey is actually outselling Aaron Rodgers' Packers jersey – in the heart of Wisconsin. According to the WSAW in Wausau, Wis., right in the heart of the state, Favre's new purple jersey is selling faster than Rodgers' at Hoffman's Hobbies, even though the sports shop hasn't received its shipment of Favre jerseys yet.

    According to the story, some fans are putting together a collection of Favre jerseys, from his days with the Falcons to the Packers to the Jets to the Vikings.

  • Call it Vikings swap. In order for the Detroit Lions to claim former Vikings receiver Glenn Holt off waivers last week, they had to release another former Vikings receiver, Billy McMullen.

    Holt was the second receiver released by the Vikings in the last month and both were Drew Rosenhaus clients. Another of the agent's clients, Bernard Berrian, shouldn't have anything to worry about when it comes to his roster status, but it's uncertain if Berrian's hamstring will be sufficiently healed to play in Monday night's game against the Houston Texans.

    The Lions weren't settling for just receivers when it comes to signing ex-Vikings. They also signed former Vikings linebacker Rufus Alexander, who was waived by the Colts in May.

  • The Vikings are expected to play their starters into the third quarter Monday night, and Texans coach Gary Kubiak said he plans to play his for three quarters. Kubiak was treating last week like a regular-season week of preparation. "We approach this game like it's a regular-season game as far as everything we do – coaches preparing throughout the week, our preparation with players, our meeting time, our practice time. So, now we're trying to set the stage for what we're going to be two weeks from now, so you try to keep it as real as possible from that standpoint," he said.

  • Texans LB DeMeco Ryans knows what he's going up against when he faces Adrian Peterson. "He runs fast and he's a strong guy. He's definitely one of the top backs in this league," Ryans said. "He is a violent runner. He is a guy you really have to bring it when you're going against him. You can't go over and try to arm tackle him. He's going to run through it. You really have to give him all you have, all you've got when you're going up to tackle."

  • Texans DE Antonio Smith is looking forward to playing against Brett Favre. "It's fun. I think that any defensive lineman dreams of sacking quarterbacks like Brett Favre," he said. "I think it's just going to be a fun game. He loves the game. He wanted to come back. I think that's just it. I think too many people make a big deal out of it when it's really not."

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