Tighter Tight End Race

The competition for a very limited number of roster spots at tight end is getting tighter every day, making preseason games even more important for the guys battling for a paycheck at that position.

If, as Vikings owner Red McCombs says, the battle to make an NFL roster is the greatest drama in pro sports, then the Vikings' tight ends are like the cast of "The West Wing."

Jim Kleinsasser is secure in his position, but with Byron Chamberlain set to serve a four-game suspension to start the season, there is much jockeying between Hunter Goodwin, Jeff Kostrewa, Steve Farmer and Sean Berton for one or two spots.

On Monday, Kostrewa, who is going through his third training camp in Mankato, received high praise from coach Mike Tice for his play in Saturday's scrimmage.

"I believe he threw himself back in the mix," Tice said. "We gave the young Farmer kid an opportunity to play more on Saturday, and, frankly, he didn't rise to the occasion. I think Jeff is right back in the mix, and think it is going to go down to the wire."

Tice said he doesn't think the team will keep four tight ends on the roster.

On Tuesday, Kostrewa said the coach's public comments won't change his approach to practice.

"I've never felt like I'm completely out of the mix," the former Wisconsin-La Crosse player said, "as long as I show steady improvement in my blocking."

Kostrewa will play in another scrimmage tonight but hinted that Saturday's preseason game against Jacksonville will be an even better opportunity to make an impression.

"Every day's a big day," he said.

Kostrewa has been on the Vikings' practice squad the last two seasons and before last year played for the Berlin Thunder in NFL Europe.

"He is a big enough guy and he has been in the system long enough," Tice said. "We certainly have room for him at this point."

* Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty visited practice Tuesday morning. He watched drills with Tice and shook hands with several players, including Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper and had his picture taken with Matt Birk and David Dixon. Pawlenty was in Mankato to speak on rural economic development. He took a moment to speak with media covering training camp and said he is willing to work with the Vikings in order to keep the team in Minnesota.
* Rain pushed the morning practice into Minnesota State University's Myers Fieldhouse. The 70-minute workout was conducted in shorts. Tice said he rather would have been outside in shells, but the practice gave the players a chance to rest.
* Tice said he isn't expecting to get much out of tonight's passing scrimmage. "It's more for the fans," he said.

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