Questions Remain After Camp

Most of the obvious holes in talent have been filled through free agency and the draft, but Mike Tice's work in assembling a championship team may not be completely done.

The building of a champion is never finished, and an NFC North champion is what Vikings coach Mike Tice thinks he could have on his hands. They are getting closer with the addition of their parts over the last two years, but there are still questions as they wrapped up their developmental camps today and move into the "breather time" between now and reporting to training camp at the end of July.

On defense, the Vikings added Ken Irvin and Denard Walker as their new starting cornerbacks, but the defensive backfield still has one major question: Who will play opposite Corey Chavous at safety? It could be Willie Offord, Jack Brewer or Brian Russell … or it could be a safety yet to be picked up.

The linebackers are effectively set, with a strong starting contingent of veterans and young and talented backups.

The defensive line was upgraded by taking Kevin Williams with the ninth pick in the draft, but Williams still hasn't put on the pads or experienced opposition at the NFL ranks. And line play is probably the toughest position to gauge in practices without pads on, so nobody really knows for sure just how good Williams is or can be.

The only starting position really up for grabs on offense in the wide receiver spot opposite Randy Moss. Could be D'Wayne Bate, could be Kelly Campbell, could be Derrick Alexander … or, again, it could come through the free-agent market.

The only other real position of intrigue is running back, where Michael Bennett is coming off of foot surgery. While he should be back for training camp, recovery time is never an exact science. Doug Chapman and Moe Williams split time during developmental camps, but Onterrio Smith, a very interesting fourth-round pick, wasn't able to attend practices the last three weeks. He will have some catching up to do in training camp if he wants to see the field during the regular season in 2003.

It's wind-down time for the players now, a time to get away for a week or more. But for the coaches and personnel department, the post-camp evaluating is just beginning.

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