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After spending a frustrating season recovering from shoulder surgery, Grant Wiley is looking to make his mark in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings.

"It's so good to be back on the field playing instead of standing on the sidelines watching," former Mountaineer All-American Grant Wiley told BlueGoldNews.com. "I've been fully cleared to play, and I'm 100% and ready to go."

Wiley participated in the Vikings' first short mini-camp a couple of weeks ago, and is now taking part in their developmental camp.

"Everyone is at this camp," said the player who reset the standard for outstanding linebacker play at West Virginia. "It's a little different than the first mini-camp, because we only have one practice per day, but it's longer. We started last week, and are going thing week and part of next week. After that, we'll just lift and run until preseason camp begins next month."

Wiley got off to an impressive start with the Vikings during his rookie preseason last year, and appears to have picked up right where he left off in 2004.

"I talked with Coach Tice the other day, and he said he was happy with my progress," said Wiley, who is often his ouwn toughest critic. "I think I'm doing pretty well. I know most of the schemes and things I'm supposed to be doing, but I still learn something every day."

While sitting out last season, Wiley did as much studying as he could to learn the Minnesota defense, but as any player will tell you, there are some things you can't learn from watching video or studying a playbook. On-field repetitions are vital in grasping the little things that make the difference in being fully comfortable with a player's assignments, and Wiley admits that he is still picking up knowledge.

"It's a completely different defense from what we played at West Virginia, so I've had to re-learn everything," he continued. "I think it's coming along pretty well, though."

When the developmental camp ends next week, the players will be released to go their own way until preseason camps open in July, but Wiley doesn't plan to stray far from the Vikings'practice facility.

"In my situation, where I was injured last year, I want to keep my face around here," Wiley said. "I plan to keep working and running to get ready for the season."

Given Wiley's love of the game, it's likely that he would have remained at the Vikings camp to work out no matter what his situation. However, he understands the nature of the NFL business, and thus is taking every chance to grab the attention of the coaching staff as he battles for a spot on the roster. Take his performance to date, add in his work ethic and his level of play so far, and it certainly looks as if he is making all the right moves to realize his NFL dreams.


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