EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings came back from their bye week with word of the possibility of a devastating blow to their proud defense.
Little light was shed at Winter Park on Monday about a Fox Sports report, citing unidentified sources, that Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams have tested positive for a weight-loss diuretic the NFL considers a masking agent for steroids.
First-time violations of the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances can bring four-game suspensions.
Coach Brad Childress said he's planning on the Williamses, who are unrelated, playing in Sunday's game against Houston Texans. The Fox report said their appeal had not yet been heard by the NFL.
"I don't have any reason to believe they won't play on Sunday, at all," said Childress, who was met by 15 questions from the media at his news conference before entertaining a handful about the Texans.
Similar to the situation three years ago when news of that infamously wild boat party broke during their annual break on the schedule, the Vikings entered the crucial part of their schedule with another controversy. Not to mention the potential loss of two of their most important players.
"Like our players feel, it's a family. It's a personal issue, and we're not going to allow it to be a distraction. Any of it," said Childress, who cited the confidentiality of the league drug policy while declining to comment specifically on the report.
The NFL's policy states this: "Any club or club employee that publicly divulges, directly or indirectly, information concerning positive tests or other violations of this policy [including numerical summaries or specific names of persons] or otherwise breaches the confidentiality provisions of this policy is subject to a fine of up to $500,000 by the commissioner."
Pat Williams twice declined to take questions from reporters while the locker room was open after practice. Kevin Williams did not appear. Their teammates were mostly mum on the subject, too, clearly under orders to clam up.
Said cornerback Cedric Griffin: "My comment is pretty much going to be, 'I don't know anything about that.'"
Said tight end Visanthe Shiancoe: "It can't be a distraction because we've got to stay mentally focused on the Houston Texans. We have players step in just in case anything happens. Who knows if anything is going to happen? But I just found out about [it] today, but of course I have no comment on that."
Added quarterback Gus Frerotte: "I don't worry about it. It has nothing to do with me, so I just go about my business and it will all work out in the end. Everybody knows it's just nothing to worry about. You go about your business and you do your thing. That's all you can do. If we had any more power than that, then obviously things would be a lot different."
Six to eight players are under investigation by the NFL for positive tests.
Last week, Denver television station Fox 31 fingered several players for using Bumetanide, a pill that decreases the amount of water retained in the body by increasing urination. It causes the kidneys to get rid of unneeded water and salt from the body into urine.
Angelo Wright, the agent for Pat Williams, said in an e-mail Monday afternoon he was "still sifting through the chain of information" and cited medical privacy issues for his client that forbid him to specifically comment.
"He will line up on Sundays. That's all I can promise you at this point," Wright wrote.
So the Vikings, who have already lost their 2007 defensive MVP, middle linebacker E.J. Henderson, to a season-ending foot injury, will press forward into November hoping to get hot like they did last year after falling to 3-6.
This once-promising season, already on the cusp of a crisis after a 48-41 loss at Chicago before the bye dropped Minnesota to 3-4, could fall apart fast.
"We don't bemoan injuries, suspensions, anything like that," Childress said.