Vikes Head East...To Enemy Territory

The next time the Vikings head to Wisconsin, it will mean the 2003 season is "for real." Today, the Vikes head east for two days of practices with the Kansas City Chiefs and, although it's at the end of July, it's never too late for some fireworks.

By the time most of you read this, the Vikings will already be on their way to River Falls, Wisc. to scrimmage the Chiefs for the next two days. The Vikings (and Chiefs) may be in for a rude awakening.

Most of these arranged scrimmages have gone off without a hitch between the Vikes and the Chiefs and Saints. But this time may be a little different.

The Chiefs have had almost two weeks of hitting each other – the Vikes' first "real" full pads practice was Monday. Add to that the belief in K.C. that the Chiefs can hang with the Raiders. Throw in that the Vikes and Chiefs will meet in Week 16 of the regular season with a potential playoff spot on the line, not to mention again in a preseason game on Aug. 16. Wanna make some money? Bet on some fights. The pot is bubbling for both teams. If nothing else, it will be entertaining.

* Gus Frerotte is getting almost exclusive work as the holder in field goal situations. New ST coach Rusty Tillman has always preferred to use the backup QB as the holder for field goals. Dennis Green and Mike Tice have both opted for punters -- Monday Night Football fans let the Mitch Berger thing go. If we have a vote, VU opts for a QB holder always.
* One player to watch during today's and tomorrow's practices is RB Larry Ned. When Onterrio Smith was holding out, Ned was a name Tice threw out as being a starting RB candidate. Most took it as being just talk, but Ned has received his chances with the first unit and played well. While his roster spot is far from assured, he's making it tougher to cut him every day and could make the case even more solid by this time Friday.
* A beneficiary of the QB-as-holder difference was Matt Birk. The All-Pro center caught a TD pass on a fake field goal with a spiral from Frerotte.
* Guard Kenny Sandlin, who helped flatten Brian Russell after a rough hit on rookie WR Nate Burleson earlier this week, announced his retirement Tuesday.

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