When the Vikings open their three-day full-squad minicamp, one position VU will be keeping an eye on is linebacker. There are expected to be a lot of changes from last year and those changes will be evident this weekend.
The most significant change will be new starter Chris Claiborne, who will be given free reign on the outside. On the other side, what promises to be a strong training camp battle will pit second-year man Raonall Smith and veteran Henri Crockett -- both fighting for the starting job. In the middle, Greg Biekert is still the man, but second-rounder E.J. Henderson will begin his fight for playing time.
As it stands, Crockett and Biekert remain atop the depth chart at their respective positions and, when the Vikings go to a two-LB set in nickel situations, Biekert and Claiborne are currently the two LBs on the field. Look for that to change, with Smith or Henderson replacing Biekert.
To that mix you add several other young linebackers and this could be the most hotly contested position during this weekend's minicamp and training camp -- when the fight for survival really begins.
* With the exception of Smith, who will be given Friday off to take a final exam at Washington State, all players not allocated to NFL Europe are expected to attend minicamp.
* DL Willie Howard has been cleared medically to practice. If, however, he actually sees on-field time in minicamp or beyond is yet to be seen.
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