Howry Puts In Strong Morning

Rookie receiver Keenan Howry had a strong morning practice while taking advantage of extra practice time, but both he and head coach Mike Tice were cautious about getting too high too early.

Vikings coach Mike Tice said that one of his main areas of concern for the Minnesota Vikings is receiver depth, finding the fourth, fifth or possibly sixth player at that position.

He felt better about his receiver corps after Monday's morning practice as rookie Keenan Howry made several good plays.

"He's had a couple of mental breakdowns, going the wrong way once," Tice said. "But he can catch the ball. he looks very smooth. I'm excited to see what he does when he returns some punts."

Howry, a seventh-round selection from Oregon, took advantage of the absence of receivers Kelly Campbell (eye infection) and Nate Burleson (shoulder) to catch the coach's eye Monday, making a couple of nice catches in a 7-on-7 red zone drill -- taking a reverse handoff, although that play ended with a solid tackle by linebacker Raonall Smith.

During one stretch, he was involved in three straight plays. "Anytime you can get out on the field and do a lot of things, it's a lot of fun," Howry said. "You have to make the most out of your opportunities."

Howry, 5-foot-10 and 172 pounds, caught 173 passes in four seasons at Oregon, scoring 24 touchdowns. He figured if he keeps his focus, the coaches' will notice his ability.

"The first couple of practices, I was rushing, trying to do too much," Howry said. "I'm just starting to calm down. I need to keep doing what I did today, it's only one day and we have a long ways to go."

Tice said the team may keep six receivers, depending on how the numbers affect special teams. Behind Randy Moss, D'Wayne Bates and Campbell, the Vikings have Derrick Alexander, Cedric James, Kenny Clark, Nick Davis and a bunch of rookies.

Though Tice was excited about Howry's morning practice, he cautioned about getting too high, too early on a rookie.

"He's showing some progress, but every time I say something nice about a (young player), he'll jump offside or drop a ball."

* Quarterback Daunte Culpepper and Moss hooked up several times in red zone plays, with Moss catching the ball over the middle and on the perimeter. He caught one long pass, in which he burned newcomer Denard Walker. On one play, however, cornerback Ken Irvin nicely broke up a fade pattern, wrestling the ball away from Moss.
* Several players were held out of practice: tight end Hunter Goodwin (knee), running back Doug Chapman (foot), linebacker Henri Crockett (leg) and Lewis Kelly (hamstring) were the most prominent. Tice said he wanted to rest players now so that would be healthy enough to practice against Kansas City on Wednesday and Thursday at River Falls, Wis.

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