Former Browns Find Winning Ways Better

Travis Prentice and Spergon Wynn moved from a 3-13 team in Cleveland to an 11-5 team in Minnesota, and they think they'll like the winning ways.

Vikings coach Dennis Green and his son, Jeremy, Cleveland's coordinator of pro personnel, worked out another trade last week as the Vikings obtained quarterback Spergon Wynn and running back Travis Prentice from the Browns for future undisclosed draft choices.

Earlier in camp, the Vikings had dealt a late-round pick to the Browns for offensive lineman Everett Lindsay.

This latest exchange between the Minnesota-Cleveland pipeline gives the Vikings depth at quarterback and allowed the team to release running back Moe Williams, who missed a good portion of training camp because of injury.

Prentice has the potential to make an immediate contribution. A third-round choice of the Browns in 2000 out of Miami of Ohio, Prentice put together an impressive college resume, rushing for 5,433 yards during his career. He holds the NCAA's all-time records for points scored (468), touchdowns rushing (73) and total touchdowns (78).

Prentice, 5-foot-11 and 221 pounds, received plenty of experience as a rookie, playing in 16 games and starting 11. He finished with 512 yards rushing on 173 carries and seven touchdowns. He also showed good hands out of the backfield, catching 37 passes for 191 yards and one touchdown.

Despite his success, Prentice was not surprised by the move. "I knew I was either going to get cut or traded," he said. "I knew something was going to happen. But being traded to Minnesota, I was telling our PR guy, yesterday I was lifting weights in the Cleveland Browns' weight room and today I am practicing with the Vikings. So, it's just been a hectic day. It really hasn't hit me yet."

He might have expected a move, but Prentice had no answer when asked why Cleveland no longer wanted him. "It's a question that is in the back of my head," he said. "Why did they let me go, how come they didn't give me enough of a chance to show what I can do? But I guess they already had their plans and that's just the way it is sometimes."

Wynn's name is familiar to Vikings fans who live in Minnesota. The quarterback, who was recruited by Jim Wacker when he was coaching at the University of Minnesota, started his collegiate career with the Gophers before transferring to Southwest Texas State.

He played two seasons at Southwest Texas State and ranks sixth on the school's career list with 3,497 yards passing. Wynn, 6-3, 226 pounds, was selected by Cleveland in the sixth round of last year's draft and completed 22 of 54 passes for 167 yards and rushed three times for 15 yards. Wynn spent the spring playing for the Amsterdam Admirals in NFL Europe.

Like Prentice, the move did not take Wynn by surprise. "I kind of felt like they were going to make a move with me," he said. "I had no idea it was going to be Minnesota though. I didn't really look and see where teams needed quarterbacks or anything like that. When I got the news, I was really pleased."

Wynn, who was with the Gophers from 1995 to 1997, is excited to have a chance to learn in the Vikings' system. "I just met the coaching staff and I have a good feeling about all of them," he said. "It was a really good tempo at practice today, and I feel like this is a really good place for me right now."

Wynn and quarterbacks coach Alex Wood will be doing plenty of work to sharpen Wynn's skills. "I feel like I can deliver the ball well," Wynn said. "I feel like there isn't a throw that I can't make. I just have to learn on the run now. I have to read defenses, handle the blitz, thing like that. Experience will help me out with all of that stuff."

Moving up
Prentice and Wynn go from a team that finished 3-13 to a club that won the NFC Central last season.

"It's just a great opportunity to be on a winning team," Prentice said. "I'm just optimistic and waiting to see how things work out. ... Last year with the Browns it was a bad season, just losing, people getting hurt. So it was just a negative vibe there last year. They started to pick it up during this preseason, but now I am with the Vikings. I'm ready to just try to come here and contribute as much as I can."

Prentice had solid pass-catching numbers last season and said he spent the offseason focusing on improving that area of his game. "I worked on that hard, especially this past offseason, just catching the ball," he said. "Just to be more valuable in the offense. The more you can do, the longer you stay around. If they know I can catch, that is one more play I could be in." VU

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