- Ben Goessling, ESPN Staff Writer
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- In a rookie season where he stood up to some of the best pass rushers in the NFL, Vikings offensive tackle Matt Kalil had few games that would obviously stand out as days where he struggled. But Kalil can quickly think of one: the first time he faced Julius Peppers.
The eight-time Pro Bowler lined up across from Kalil for the first time last November at Soldier Field, and though Kalil held Peppers without a sack, Peppers made his presence felt with both his speed and power. Kalil gave up six hurries in that game, according to Pro Football Focus, and Peppers hurried Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder four times.
As both players are coming off subpar performances in their first games of the season, Kalil expects to have his hands full on Sunday in Chicago.
"He has the whole package," Kalil said. "Age obviously hasn't slowed him down. He's still the same player. He can turn it on and off whenever he wants. You always have to be prepared for that."
Kalil gave up four hurries and a quarterback hit last Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus. That came after a preseason where he gave up two sacks in a loss to Buffalo and got hit with a pair of unnecessary roughness penalties in a loss to San Francisco. Kalil, though, said he saw something that contributed to Lions end Willie Young beating him with a handful of inside moves.
"We go on silent count the whole time in (road) crowd atmospheres, since it gets so loud," Kalil said. "I think it was just certain things where I'm looking at the ball, and then when the balls snapped, my head snaps up to look at the defense and I'm drifting out, so he comes inside. It's things you don't notice in games. When I'm in the game, I'm like, 'Well, these guys are taking all these inside moves, and I don't know why.' And then you look on film, and I'm drifting out. It's just things you correct."
The Vikings' offensive line has seemed a bit out of sync since the preseason, and Kalil obviously has been no exception to that. Another matchup with Peppers, though, gives him a chance to get back on track.