Vikings stars are star-struck

The young playmakers among the Vikings were shocked and thrilled to be teammates with Randy Moss. Others were amazed at the efforts of the front office. Even the grizzled veterans were shaking their heads at the talent brought in. See what all of them had to say about the newest addition.

Adrian Peterson had a hard time controlling an ear-to-ear grin at practice Thursday. He had a new teammate. Not just any new teammate. It was Randy Moss – a hero of Peterson's growing up.

It has been quite a ride over the last 15 months. In August 2009, Peterson was the face of the franchise. As of Thursday, he was like a face on Mount Rushmore. He was ecstatic about playing with an idol like Brett Favre when he arrived in 2009. Thursday's first practice for new (old) Viking Randy Moss was yet another football dream come true for Peterson, who said he can't believe his luck with playing with two of his idols during his formative football years.

"It's like Christmas over and over again," Peterson said. "I never imagined playing with Favre and it's happening. Now Randy Moss, my favorite receiver and the best in the game. I feel like a kid in the candy store right now."

Peterson was far from alone in his assessment. Percy Harvin felt he was shoulder to shoulder with A.D. in the candy store, saying that he was in disbelief that, on top of being united as a rookie with a first-ballot unanimous Hall of Fame quarterback, he also gets learn from the most dynamic receiver in the game for more than a decade.

"I couldn't have imagined any of it," Harvin said of his Hall of Fame teammates. "Definitely not Brett. It could have been a little more reality with Moss, but definitely not Brett. Being I get to play with both of them, it's a dream come true."

Like Peterson, Harvin grew up with a reverence to Moss. He said when he found out the rumors were true and that Moss would be coming, there was only one person he wanted to share the news with – just as he had done when Favre came to Minnesota to the jaw-dropping disbelief of Vikings (and Packers) fans.

"When I heard he was coming, the first thing I did was call my mom and said ‘God was good,'" Harvin said. "It couldn't have come at a better time for me and my career as a young person and for this team."

Harvin said he has been asking Moss questions already because one of the first things Favre told him to do to improve his game was to watch tape of how Moss and Wes Welker attacked defenses with the Patriots. He got a wealth of information off of old Pats game film, but said that he had always been a fan of Moss and his ability to dominate games. When Harvin was first making a name for himself as a difference-maker in high school, Moss was the gold standard by which all playmakers were measured.

"As a skill (position) person, it started with Moss," Harvin said. "When he was at Marshall and then came into the (NFL), he created his own name – The Moss. I think every young wide receiver watches Moss and it's a privilege to play with him."

Harvin said the acquisition of Moss improves the receiver corps significantly, not just because the team added a talented deep threat, but it allows Harvin to move back to his most comfortable position and allows Moss and Bernard Berrian to streak down the sideline and open things up over the middle.

"For me, I get to go back down to my slot position," Harvin said. "I get to work the middle of the field – what I do best. Knowing that I've got Bernard and (Moss) to stretch the field, that draws a lot of attention (away from) me. I do nothing but smile. We've got a long way to go, but we've got a lot of the weapons there. We just have to put them together."

The positive feeling was shared by other members of the Vikings – even those who deep down may be asking themselves why the Vikings keep spending money to bring in players from outside the organization and haven't started the process of giving them new contracts.

Ben Leber is one of those players. When asked about the Moss addition, he kidded that he was unaware of who he was being asked about, but brought home the feeling of many veterans – those with long-term contracts and those without – that the Vikings have a front office mindset that has brought players like Favre and Moss to the organization.

"Who'd we get?" Leber asked, feigning shock. "It's exciting to add a dynamic playmaker like that to your roster – no matter what position. I think everyone is excited to have him out here and see what he can do on Sundays. It's something they always drill into your head – they're going to look for ways to better the team and look for any opportunity they can get. If they find a Hall of Fame linebacker out there, even though maybe we don't need one on paper, they might go out and get him. It's just the way this league is and the way that the system is set up. It was just an opportunity out there and it looks like we capitalized on it."

Defensive end Ray Edwards, who was denied unrestricted free agency by the lack of a collective bargaining agreement being in place, said he was stunned when word surfaced that Moss was coming back to Minnesota. It seemed more like the move made by a fantasy football owner, not an NFL owner to match up Favre and Moss.

"Back in the day, I probably never thought they would be on the same team, given the battles they had early in their careers – it might have been late in Brett's career, but early in Moss' career," Edwards said. "They're going make the best decisions for the team up in the front office and I guess they felt that was the best decision for us."

Chad Greenway, who is also expected to be in line for a contract extension soon, said that he applauds the aggressiveness of the franchise to see an opening to add an impact player to the offense and jumping at the chance, because the situation calls for it.

"Obviously, he's a great player and a huge addition to our team," Greenway said. "It's going to be a positive that will help us keep building. We've got to win now and get this going."

The immediate impact once the media swarm dies down is that defenses are now going to have to reduce the number of times they can put eight defenders in the box. The addition of Moss in 1998 helped Robert Smith finally blossom as a big-play threat because defenses didn't focus on him as much. Peterson is markedly more dangerous than Smith and he says he's looking forward to the chance of getting through the line and not finding a safety waiting for him.

"It definitely loosens things up," Peterson said. "When you've got a player like Randy Moss, it loosens things up even more. When I heard the news I was excited … overwhelmed. I'm looking forward to taking that first snap."

Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, who also looks to benefit from reduced defensive attention said his first word upon hearing Moss had been acquired was "Hallelujah!" But he added all the star power in the world won't make a difference if it doesn't translate to game day.

"I think a lot of stuff is going to open up," Shiancoe said. "We can talk about how great this offense is and talk about how much time we have, but that doesn't mean anything if we can't transfer that over to the field. We have to start crossing our ‘T's' and dotting our ‘I's' and really get into these fundamentals."

The consensus opinion was one of optimistic shock among the Vikings players. What transpired Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning came quickly and decisively, catching even the most vested of Vikings veterans by surprise … again.

"Every year – I talk to (Steve Hutchinson) all the time – I always say, ‘I've seen it all,'" said tight end Jim Kleinsasser, who has been a Viking since 1999. "I've been saying it for the last 12 years – ‘I've seen it all.' This is it. I've seen it all."

As he was answering that question, Favre walked by and gave Kleinsasser a backward truck driver head nod of acknowledgement. The gesture prompted the question as one of players that broke Kleinsasser's "I've seen it all" beliefs, was within earshot. How does it feel to play with both of them? The question drew a grin and a shrug from the veteran tight end.

"Every year you get a new one," Kleinsasser said with a laugh. "I guess he (Favre) was last year's version and Moss is this year's. Never say never."

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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