Q: Quite a few names on the injury list this week.
Mike: "Well, this is longer than normal, isn't it. As far as the injury situation, (Jerry) Wunsch and Brandon Mitchell are the ones most doubtful or questionable, I would guess. The other fellas will practice as they can. That's why they're on the list. Some of them might not get going until tomorrow."
Q: Are you finally getting enough pressure on the
Mike: "Well, the fact that we're getting more pressure is important and is good. I think if we get the sack or force them to make a bad throws or a poor decisions that's every bit as effective. I would say we have improved in that area the past couple weeks."
Q: Are there any parallels between Culpepper and Vick?
Mike: "I look at the quarterbacks being quite different. Both are very effective in their own way, but very different. Michael Vick and his quickness and how he can avoid is different. Daunte is a big, strong man. And you can think you have him and you don't. Minnesota's offensive football team, there are some more weapons there."
Q: The Vikings use the shotgun formation more than usual.
Mike: "The reason they do run the shotgun is to give him a little extra time. He's comfortable with it, too. They run a fair amount of empty, where they put everybody out and they don't have a back behind him. So there's no reason not to use the shotgun if he's comfortable with it. It makes it a little harder to get home on a blitz. He has that one extra second to deal with it. But at the same time, if he's in the shotgun, he's the only one back there and you know what they're doing. So it might be a push. They give him the extra time, and obviously he's very comfortable with it."
Q: Culpepper has very good running ability.
Mike: "He does. That's always built into your defensive scheme a little bit when there's no backs back there besides the quarterback. You always have to count him as a threat to run the ball. This guy, when he runs, he runs. He's a good runner."
Q: John Randle is getting more sacks lately.
Mike: "He went to the Pro Bowl his first year and had a lot of sacks. Last year he was hurt, of course. He was somewhat limited, but then played really fine football when we were playing well down the stretch. This year he had to play a lot more early than we really wanted him to play. And now he's in a role where he can be most effective. That's partly why we're getting a little more pressure. He's a little fresher and he's not so worn out. On third down situations he can create some problems inside. The biggest thing, though, honestly, was his willingness to take the reduction in salary. That blew me away. I thought that was a great thing, a great team thing. An unselfish act by a great football player, a Hall of Fame football player. You just don't see it happen that much, which told me a couple things: One, he likes being here and he likes playing. And he is the real deal. When he talks about team and talks about those things, that's real, that's honest. You can't say that about everybody."
Q: What do you think Randle's legacy is in Minnesota?
Mike: "Well, I think wherever they talk about him, certainly in Minnesota he was one of their great players of all time. He's one of the all-time sack leaders in the league since they've been keeping that statistic. The remarkable thing is where he came from to where he is. He beat the odds. He's undersized, not a big guy, and he's the poster child for what hard work and just a will to get it done can do for an athlete. That's what he is. And when he played against me, he was unbelievably good. So it's a real pleasure for me to have him on my team now for the last couple or three years, and I'm happy. I'm glad it worked out for the club and everything, but having him around just makes me feel better."
Q: What are some of the problems playing in Minnesota, is it
Mike: "That's it. That is really it. It's a tremendous home field advantage for them. But any team that goes in there, you have to deal with it. Unlike other sports where teams have home field advantages, it's tough to play baseball in the other guy's park or basketball. Football manifests itself on the snap count. The snap count is real. That's not just the noise of the crowd and you're feeling funny about it. That's the real thing you have to deal with. We've had a lot experience playing in domes. You have ways of combating that. We'll work on a couple or three things this week and I'll pipe in the noise tomorrow and just get our guys used to it a little bit. But the important thing that your team has to understand is look, so what. This is the way it is. You have to go in there and figure out a way to deal with it and the good teams do, somehow. There are no excuses. So let's try and figure it out.
Q: What are your thoughts on Minnesota's defense?
Mike: "That's hard to pin down, just a little bit. They switch from game to game, depending on the personnel they're going to face. At least that's the way it appears to me. They believe in a blitzing, movement type of defensive line and linebacker situation. You can't say, OK, they run the Tampa Bay defense or that they run a lot of defenses. It makes it a little difficult to game plan. When you play a team like that, you can't really just go: 'Here's what we're going to see. Here's what we'll deal with.' Then really it falls back in your lap. We have to do what we do. We react to what we see, because there are a lot of things that change over there."
Q: Has Minnesota's defense been exploited?
Mike: "Take out the last game, because the Rams, that was a pretty close ball game in the third quarter, and then all of a sudden the Rams picked up a fumble and they got two quick scores, bang, bang, in a matter of like 15 seconds. And then the crowd gets into it. But I would say they popped a couple of runs against the blitz, and that happens sometimes. Teams have run the football on them for pretty good chunks of yardage. I think they've had a couple injury situations. The continuity at times has been missing just a little bit from what you need. I know this: the difficulty of playing in there, for an offensive football team. Not the defensive football team. Because our defense has the trouble at home, when our crowd is noisy. That's the problem for the defense, is at home. Offensively, it's on the road. If we don't handle our disciplines - not jumping off-sides, not getting the signal or the audible - if we don't do those things, it doesn't matter what you try to do. We won't get it done. We have got to be disciplined in a place like this."
Q: Did you talk to the DBs about Moss making plays?
Mike: "You know what? I gave my speech to the team this morning, the defensive team, and I won't talk to them any more. That's Ray's job, really. I did make reference to Minnesota's offensive team this morning. You play the great receivers in the league, whether it's Randy or Terrell Owens or Isaac Bruce or Torry Holt, who are the guys we're going to see down the stretch here, you have got to have a plan on how you're going to do that. Otherwise, they can almost beat you single-handed. Everybody has to have a plan against those great players. I think when people defend us, I'm not sure they know, I don't think they are going to stay up all night thinking about how you're going to stop Mack Strong. But what I like about what we're doing is that we are spreading the ball around. I added it up today and if you take the split-end position and the flanker position and the tight end position and add it with Engram's catches, then our backs' positions with the fullback and halfback, it's almost about even. About 55 catches per position, which is a really good balance. That kind of gives us our strength because we don't have one of those 6-4 guys who can run a 4.2.