Vikings Closing In On Rookie Signings

With just five days until players report for the start of training camp, VU has learned the team is making headway in getting its top rookies signed before camp begins.

The Vikings have annually played the waiting game with rookies -- rarely getting everyone signed until just days or even hours before training camp is set to begin.

While the Vikes still don't have most of their rookies under contract, VU has been told announcements are pending in the next couple of days, including getting the top two picks -- running back Michael Bennett and defensive lineman Willie Howard -- signed and delivered to Mankato.

The Vikings are most interested in getting Bennett into camp, since he is going to be given the opportunity to be the replacement for the retired Robert Smith and, the longer he could potentially miss the start of training camp, the more he would hurt his chances in a preseason battle with Doug Chapman for a starting job.

The signing of first-round picks has been painfully slow around the league and many teams have opened their training camps already with players unsigned and nowhere near reaching an agreement. Fortunately, the Vikings have made offers that are in the ballpark of what the agents for the unsigned rookies are looking for and, within the next three or four days, the team is confident it will have everyone signed and on the field at Minnesota State University for the start of two-a-day practices.

* Aside from Bennett and Howard, the Vikings still have yet to sign fourth-round picks DT Shawn Worthen and WR Cedric James and sixth-round pick CB Carey Scott. VU has been told that contract talks with Worthen and James have been more difficult than the ongoing talks with Bennett and Howard and, if any players aren't in by opening day, it could be just as likely to be one or both of the fourth-rounders than the top picks.

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