EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Vikings will start Derrick Alexander over D'Wayne Bates against Seattle in hopes of pepping up their passing game.

Bates is still expected to see considerable playing time as the third wide receiver, but head coach Mike Tice and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan are trying to jolt an offense that managed just 191 yards in a 21-14 loss to Carolina last week. Four of quarterback Daunte Culpepper's passes were intercepted.

Alexander caught five passes for 48 yards in Minnesota's first three games. He signed with the Vikings in the off-season as an unrestricted free agent from Kansas City, but was beaten out by Bates during minicamp and training camp while slowed by injuries.

The Vikings hope Alexander, who is faster than Bates, can give the team a deeper threat that discourages double- and triple-teaming Randy Moss.

"They're putting me in there for a reason and that's to make plays," Alexander said. "Hopefully this week and the weeks to come I'll get to catch some passes. Teams have been trying to take Randy away and we have to do better at countering with everyone we play against. Whoever is on the other side has to make some plays and be a part of this offense."


Seahawks ground game grounded

Last season, the prospect of stopping Seattle running back Shaun Alexander was scary.

Though he started only 12 games, Alexander rushed for over 1,300 yards and led the NFL with 14 rushing touchdowns.

This season the Vikings see a little hope. Through three games, Alexander has just 110 yards and no touchdowns on 44 carries.

Minnesota had trouble last week with Carolina's Lamar Smith, who rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Smith and Alexander have similar styles: power backs who run up the middle and hit holes fast.

"That's the key for him to explode is to be hitting inside holes where there's nobody there, and that's our challenge," said linebacker Greg Biekert. "The last three weeks that's something teams have done well defensively against them. That's something we want to continue: limit the amount of yards he gets running downhill on us and force them to bounce outside. We feel like we're at an advantage if he does that."

Hovan meets Randle

As a rookie out of Boston College in 2000, tackle Chris Hovan patterned his play after All-Pro and then-teammate John Randle.


But when Randle left for Seattle after the 2000 season, the two went their own ways. Now in his third season, the high-energy Hovan is emerging as one of the top tackles in football. Randle had 11 sacks last season for the Seahawks, but hasn't played a down this season due to a knee injury. He's listed as doubtful for Sunday.

"I learned how to play like a professional, practice and prepare myself for Sundays," said Hovan. "If John Randle helped me in my career that's one of the things I owe him for. But he's found his own way and so I've found my own thing now."

For one thing, Hovan found ways to be energetic without the trash-talking that Randle was known for.

"Some guys need that to get going," said Hovan. "I can talk but I usually like to get the crowd going than getting my opponent going. My opponent knows what's going on, he knows he's got to face me. That's hell enough."

Injury update

Tight end Byron Chamberlain was upgraded from questionable to probable for Sunday's game. Chamberlain missed the last two games with a knee injury.

-- Associated Press

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