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Vikings-Buccaneers matchup of the day: Tuesday

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Recent posts by Eric Edholm

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Posted Sept. 13, 2011 @ 7:20 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Here's a look at a key matchup for Sunday's Buccaneers-Vikings game:

Vikings OLT Charlie Johnson vs. Buccaneers DRE Adrian Clayborn

After one game, both Johnson and Clayborn have something to prove. For Johnson, he's a six-year vet who once played a key role in a Super Bowl victory. For the rookie Clayborn, no one is going to write him off after one game.

Johnson struggled — badly — in the opener after a less-than-stellar preseason. He's a smallish left tackle, and he's working his way through the process of improving. Most of the Vikings' damage in the run game went the other direction, and he allowed several key pressures, including a sack on the final drive. The entire unit looked bad, but this was a tough afternoon for Johnson.

He earned the assignment of Clayborn, a talented rookie who put up a zero — as in no stats — in his debut. He did provide a pressure on Lions QB Matthew Stafford on a pass he rushed and one that should have been an interception. But for the most part, Clayborn was beaten a few times and left in the dust twice by RB Jahvid Best around end.

Clayborn is a stout right end at 285 pounds, and it's exactly that quality — bulk — that often plagues Johnson. He's more of a finesse blocker who works better against the quicker rushers. Point-of-attack players often can dominate him and push him back into the pocket. It will be interesting to see if the Vikings give him TE help, as they typically used a two-TE set as their base on Sunday against the Chargers' 3-4 front.

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