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Matchups to watch

By RICK STROUD

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 9, 2000


Vikings C Matt Birk and G Corbin Lacina vs. Bucs DT Warren Sapp

The Bucs DT had to sit out of the first quarter last week at Washington and would love to start fast Monday night. He also thrives in the spotlight. And for the first time, his trip to the Metrodome won't be to play against G Randall McDaniel. Sapp played with a broken bone in his hand at the Metrodome last season.

Vikings WR Randy Moss vs. Bucs CB Donnie Abraham

The Vikings like to move Moss around and will use a lot of three WR formations, likely matching Barber on Moss several times. Moss has burned the Bucs, catching four passes for 120 yards and 2 TDs in a 21-14 loss at the Metrodome last year. But the Bucs held him to two catches for 32 yards in the rematch at Tampa. Three or Abraham's seven INTs last season came against the Vikings, including two at the Metrodome.

Vikings RB Robert Smith vs. Bucs LB Nate Webster

Smith is fifth in the NFL with 406 yards and another threat to the Bucs defense, which has been hurt by big rushing performances in recent weeks by Curtis Martin and Stephen Davis. Webster, a rookie from Miami, will get the start as Jamie Duncan tries to recover from a concussion. Duncan will probably be available if Webster struggles. But the Bucs coaches love Webster and are excited to see what he can do on the fast track of the Metrodome.

Bucs G Randall McDaniel vs. Vikings DT John Randle

This used to be a daily matchup for McDaniel, who broke in one of the NFL's best sackmasters during his years at Minnesota. McDaniel probably hasn't lost much having to go up against Warren Sapp every day, but it'll be interesting watching these two former teammates go at it today and critical for the Bucs to keep Randle off quarterback Shaun King.

Bulletin board

"When he hits Robert Smith the first time, he'll know he's been hit." -- Bucs general manager Rich McKay on rookie MLB Nate Webter, who will make his first NFL start tonight at the Metrodome.

"He really set himself up when, at the original press conference, he said that they were going to throw him the ball a lot. I know Tony (Dungy) very well and I know the makeup of their team. There's not going to be a receiver catch 80 balls, it's just not going to happen. And if it does happen, then it's really not the character of the way the team is put together to be able to play defense and run the ball. They've added some things to the passing game. But his expectations, I believe, were totally unrealistic going into the situation he was foreign to." -- Vikings WR Cris Carter on Keyshawn Johnson

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