Fighting To Improve

During a very feisty morning practice, the Vikings eventually got past the fights and produced a number of good signs that head coach Mike Tice pointed out.

It wasn't the 12 fistfights owner Red McCombs was looking for, but training camp took a bit of feisty turn Sunday morning.

"There were only three (fights) today -- only nine short," coach Mike Tice said after the morning workout. "That's a joke."

Although the practice was conducted in shells -- the players put on full pads on Monday -- it was very physical with separate scuffles between safety Corey Chavous and running back Moe Williams, safety Brian Russell and receiver Jermaine Mayes, and Russell and guard Kenny Sandlin.

Russell was also admonished on the field by Tice after a hard hit on rookie reciever Nate Burleson, although the coach later had his arm around Russell.

"I hope (Burleson) didn't reinjure his shoulder," Tice said later. "It was a pretty good hit by (Russell), but not very smart."

Tice said he was pleased with the workout, pointing out three areas that stood out: tighter coverage by the secondary and linebacking corps, pass protection and the quarterbacks' decision making.

Both Daunte Culpepper and Gus Frerotte made several outstanding throws during 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills. Culpepper ran to his right and threw back to the left sideline, hitting Randy Moss. Frerotte had long hookups with Burleson, Cedric James and Kenny Clark.

With about 10 minutes remaining in the morning practice, rookie running back Onterrio Smith arrived to the practice field in a golf cart, ending his one-day holdout.

The fourth-round draft pick from Oregon actually thought a contract had been agreed upon on Saturday and went to Mankato that morning. But when he realized no agreement was reached he went back home. Sunday, he was in camp for good.

"I've got some catching up to do," Smith said.

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