Garcia, Minnesota come together

SEATTLE - All Juan Garcia wanted was a shot. And after this past weekend, the Minnesota Vikings wanted to make sure no one else got their shot at acquiring the former Washington center, as he accepted a one-year contract with the NFL club after successfully navigating a rookie mini-camp this past weekend.

"They already had me highly-rated," Garcia said late Sunday night. "Their only concern was my injuries. It worked out good. They told me that if I never had my injuries, I would have been drafted."

It's clear that Minnesota was one of the teams, along with the New York Jets, who were very serious about Garcia after seeing him at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. At this past weekend's rookie mini-camp, the former Husky was 12 pounds lighter than his combine weight, and wowed the coaches with his recall of the Vikings' playbook.

"They threw a lot of stuff at you," he said.

The Vikings invited 10 linemen to camp after coming to terms with two Oklahoma Sooners linemen - Phil Loadholt via the NFL draft and center Jon Cooper via free agency. Garcia was one of only two offensive linemen to earn a contract offer after the weekend was over.

"I didn't have one bad practice," said Garcia. "All weekend there was nothing negative, but in the back of my mind was the thought that it still wouldn't be good enough. I wasn't sure until the end."

He found out through Vikings Offensive Line Coach Pat Morris, who was an assistant coach at Michigan State the same time Garcia's last OL coach at Washington, Mike Denbrock, was a graduate assistant.

"(Morris) asked me if I liked it over here, and I told him that I loved it, and he told me that they wanted to sign me to a contract," Garcia said.

They didn't even wait for Garcia to take a shower, so he got dressed, went to the Vikings office and got on a conference call with his agent, Mike Abadir, and agreed to the deal. Next weekend he was set to work out for the Oakland Raiders, but that won't happen now.

The contract, signed for the league minimum, which is expected to be worth at least 300,000, won't come to pass unless Garcia makes the team. He is more than ready for the challenge. "Now I have a shot," he said. "And that's what I went there for."

Garcia will spend the next couple of weeks in Seattle, organizing his things and getting packed to move to Minnesota, where OTA's (Organized Team Activities) start May 19th.

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