McKinnie Ready to Make Statement

The focus of most training camps is to see how new players blend in with a team, but for Bryant McKinnie, this is his first taste of an NFL training camp and he is turning heads with what is hoped to be his ascent to the top of his position.

With most of the hype surrounding the 2003 Vikings training camp being directed at rookies and new free agents, one player who has slipped through the radar is offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie.

While there hasn't been a lot of press coverage of McKinnie, his presence at training camp is a huge difference for the Vikings. A year ago, McKinnie was in the midst of a contract holdout that eventually dragged on until late October. This year, McKinnie is in camp from Day One and ready to start making believers.

When the Vikings drafted McKinnie, the intention was – and remains – to have a anchor left tackle for the next decade. What players, coaches and fans saw last year of McKinnie was only a precursor of what to expect this year.

VU has been told that both players and coaches are extremely impressed with McKinnie's work ethic through the offseason and now into training camp. While he may not be a Pro Bowler this year – with offensive linemen, the honor is more political than anything else – he is expected to play at a Pro Bowl level.

If there is going to be one major difference with the Vikings offense this year, it may well be the ability for the Vikings to outmuscle opponents up front. After that, everything else from the run game to the pass game may fall into place nicely.

* One of the highlights of Monday's practice was something the Vikings and their fans have grown accustomed to – a 60-yard bomb from Daunte Culpepper to Randy Moss.
* VU has been told that the Vikings are extremely happy with what they've seen of LB E.J. Henderson thus far in camp. He has exceeded the team's expectations of his ability and grasp of the system.
* Doug Chapman was slowed Monday with a sore foot, but the competition between he and Onterrio Smith is expected to heat up starting today.

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