Big Changes on Defense

Aug. 1 is rarely a big day on the NFL calendar, but it may prove to be huge for the Vikings, if the changes implemented today stick for the rest of the year.

It's rare when a couple of franchise-changing positional differences are made on the same day, but do a "cut-and-paste" on this one and remember Aug. 1 -- for better or worse.

Mike Tice, in conjunction with position coaches and defensive coordinator George O'Leary, made a pair of major roster shifts Friday following the Vikings' two days of practice with the Chiefs.

First, and perhaps foremost, is that Kevin Williams is now in the defensive starting lineup -- for every down. When drafted, VU was told that the Vikings envision Williams to fill the role of John Randle -- defensive tackle by trade, defensive end by necessity. It has happened.

The Vikings have moved Williams to the starting defensive left end in the base format. The move takes DLE Kenny Mixon and moves him the right defensive end spot. With Mixon's move, Fred Robbins remains in the base formation lineup at DT next to Chris Hovan and Lance Johnstone moves to the bench. On third downs and/or obvious passing downs, Williams moves inside, Robbins goes to the bench and Johnstone returns as a pass-rush DE.

In another major move, but one more anticipated from pre-draft discussions with LB coach Brian Baker, the team announced the official switch of Chris Claiborne and Henri Crockett. Crockett will move to strongside linebacker (the spot typically over the tight end) and Claiborne will move to weakside. The move has been expected, since it achieves two goals -- allowing the veteran Crockett to take tight ends in pass coverage and for Claiborne to be a blitz LB.
* The Vikings team scrimmage today is going to be a ghost ship of players, with several nursing minor injuries from the K.C. scrimmages.
* Safety Brian Russell was the hit of the team's swimming event. While linemen attempted to make as big a splash as possible, Russell executed a Louganis-ian dive complete with revolutions and spins to take the unofficial mantle hands down.

Viking Update Top Stories