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Updated: October 29th, 2012 4:26pm
Notebook: Marshawn Lynch will provide run defense with latest test

Notebook: Marshawn Lynch will provide run defense with latest test

by Judd Zulgad and Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings will try to end a three-game streak of surrendering 100 rushing yards to an opposing player on Sunday but it isn't going to be easy.

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is second in the NFL with 757 rushing yards and is averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Only Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (775 yards) is ahead of Lynch.

Lynch already has four 100-yard rushing performances this season, including 105 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown in the Seahawks' 28-24 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

The Vikings, meanwhile, surrendered 138 rushing yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns to Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III in Week 6; 104 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown to Arizona running back LaRod Stephens-Howling in Week 7; and 135 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown to Tampa Bay's Doug Martin last Thursday.

The Vikings lost two of those three games, including a 36-17 loss to the Buccaneers at the Metrodome.

"I'm concerned," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Monday. "We've got to shore up our run game. The running back we're facing on Sunday in my mind, he is one of the best in our business. So, we better get our run game fixed in a hurry."

The last two games have been of particular concern because the Vikings tackling has been suspect. Stephens-Howling is only 5-foot-7 and 185 pounds and Martin is 5-9 and 215 pounds. Lynch is bigger than both those backs (5-11) and is listed as being the same weight as Martin.

While some Vikings talked about the difficulty of tackling a smaller back like Stephens-Howling or Martin, Frazier's point is the defense isn't going to have success against any running backs if improvements aren't made.

The Vikings are currently 16th against the run in the NFL, giving up 133.3 yards per game. They were 11th after Week 6.

"We were not gap-sound in our last ballgame," Frazier said. "We missed some tackles as well and things that -- you're not going to be playing good run defense if guys aren't where they're supposed to be, especially if you're trying to get into eight-man fronts. We had some situations even in eight-man fronts, we weren't where we needed to be.

"One of the things we did (Monday) was we did a review on some of our run fits, whether it was seven-man fronts or eight-man fronts -- just to make sure we all understand where we have to be and how we have to fit up runs. But we have to improve in that area."

Veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield said it's a matter of "guys trying to do too much."

He pointed to Martin's 41-yard run in the first quarter that set up a Buccaneers field goal.

"I think on that play, the player tried to go over the top and (Martin) cut back and had an open lane and Chris (Cook) caught him down the field," Winfield said. "But if guys just stay in their gaps, play the way we've been playing, we'll be good."

Give them a break

While the Vikings entered their weekend off having to think about the loss to Tampa Bay, Frazier felt the break was beneficial.

"I would think so," he said. "Just to be able to clear your mind and get started on the second half of the season -- this break comes at a good time for us. You really feel like it's a clean slate and you're starting anew. I think that's a good thing from a mental standpoint."

Frazier said that the Vikings have "moved on" from the Tampa Bay loss and emphasized to the team that all focus and energy now has to be put on Seattle.

"They can't look back," he said. "We have to look forward."

Frazier did not address the fact the schedule is about to get much tougher, but he did bring up that the two quarters of the schedule are now behind his team. The third quarter will see the Vikings play Seattle, Detroit, Chicago and Green Bay. Only the Lions game will be at home.

"I talked about the fact that we are entering the third quarter of the season, how important it is in November to set up December," Frazier said. "But I didn't get into games other than the game that we have coming up."

Raymond getting closer

Safety Mistral Raymond said he was a full participant in practice, moving one step closer to returning from the right ankle injury he suffered on Sept. 23 against San Francisco.

Frazier said it looks like Raymond -- who dislocated the ankle and suffered a bone bruise while trying to make a tackle -- will be available on Sunday. But the team still must evaluate how the ankle responds to each day's work.

"He's missed a bunch of time," Frazier said. "So, we've got to see him go through some things with his teammates before we put him out there, for sure."

Raymond, who said after Monday's practice he has no soreness in the ankle, beat out Jamarca Sanford for the starting job at strong safety in camp. But Sanford has played well enough coaches may stick with him even when Raymond is healthy.

"That's absolutely not on my mind right now," Raymond said. "I'm just getting back in the groove of things, getting the conditioning and getting back in practice. I'm available, but how much they want to use me, to what extent, what role they're going to have me in, that's totally up to the coaching staff."

Sanford worked with the starters during the jogthrough portion of practice reporters were allowed to watch.

Extra work

Rookie receiver Jarius Wright, who has yet to dress for a game, was seen getting extra work on route-running after practice under the watch of assistant receivers coach Ryan Ficken.

The Vikings have activated five receivers in recent weeks, although one of them, Devin Aromashodu, never even got onto the field in Thursday's loss.

"I like the things that Jarius is doing," Frazier said. "With some of the things we did (Monday) in practice, he got a lot of reps. He's kept his head in it as far as what we're doing on offense. He's working hard on special teams. He's still improving as a punt returner.

"I think he's about where we need him to be. We feel like, when the time comes for him to step in, he'll be able to do a good job for us."

Quick hits

• TE John Carlson (concussion) still hasn't been cleared to return to practice, but Frazier said the team is hoping for good news before returning to the field on Wednesday.

• WR Michael Jenkins missed practice because of a personal issue, Frazier said.

• The Vikings worked out former Cowboys WR Teddy Williams last week, TheSidelineView.com reported.

• The Vikings re-signed G Tyler Holmes to the practice squad and waived DE Ernest Owusu off the practice squad.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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