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Friday, August 27, 2004

Planning for the Niners Game Tonight

Vikings coach Mike Tice said this week he'll try to keep his first unit on the field through the first series of the third quarter.

``That's the plan,'' Tice said. ``But it's not etched in stone.''

A bold plan, considering the Vikings' own bout with the injury bug.

Minnesota is already without one of its starting cornerbacks (Brian Williams), its originally-projected No. 2 receiver (Marcus Robinson) and its starting Pro Bowl center (Matt Birk). But, unlike his counterpart, Tice has some depth to rely on. Veteran Ken Irvin will likely take Williams' spot in the secondary, reliable youngster Nate Burleson and speedster Kelly Campbell will line up with Randy Moss in the three-receiver set, and Cory Withrow continues to fill in for Birk.

``I'm very confident in our depth,'' Tice said.

Tice said he'll give rookie running back Mewelde Moore some time with the first unit. Moore, a hard runner who's shown flashes in Minnesota's first two exhibition games, could be counted on more during the regular season if Onterrio Smith's appeal to a four-game suspension for reportedly violating the NFL's substance abuse policy doesn't hold up.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Scrimmage Boosts Esteem

As if Red McCombs and the Vikings needed a show of support from fans after training camp, it came last night -- in the form of 10,000 fans at a scrimmage in Blaine.

Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but last night it was the Land of 10,000 Fans Willing to Spend $12 To Watch a Scrimmage.

It was unclear how many fans were going to show up for the team's intrasquad scrimmage at the National Sports Center in Blaine. But once they started coming, it didn't stop. In all 10,000 people attended.

For the record, the defense won the scrimmage again despite being badly undermanned at the cornerback spot by a 31-25 score.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Ready for Atlanta

With the promise of big things to come this season, the Vikings broke camp at Mankato this morning -- returning to Minneapolis for a flight to Atlanta.

Sounding more like a warden than a coach, Mike Tice discussed the end of the Mankato leg of the team's training camp by keeping the team in place.

When asked about the team's potential move back to Minneapolis Wednesday for a flight out to Atlanta today, Tice said the players were "under lockdown" for the night and that putting them up in a hotel in Minneapolis Wednesday night "didn't sound like the best idea."

Perhaps Tice knows his team better than most, but leaving Mankato is always the sign of the next level of preparation for the season. After this weekend, the first series of cuts will be made -- effectively ending the careers of several players -- making Mankato the last happy memory many of them will have.

The Vikings will continue to maintain a training camp practice schedule, but it will shift to the team's headquarters at Winter Park.