Tice Sends Message to Team

Mike Tice has been prone to making threats to players as head coach, ranging from holdouts like Bryant McKinnie to underachievers like Derrick Alexander. Wednesday, he was at it again, but this time it was the entire team that felt his wrath.

Mike Tice has made pointed comments to individual players in his short tenure as head coach – a threat of job security if production doesn't meet expectations. Wednesday, however, he sent a blanket threat to the entire team, pointing out groups of players for mental mistakes.

"For the first time this camp, I put a challenge before the team and, as a team, they didn't answer that challenge," Tice said Wednesday."

In particular, he pointed the finger at the young stable of running backs for not stepping up when given a chance at Tuesday's passing scrimmage and the tight end group that needs a player or two to step up while Byron Chamberlain sits out his four-game suspension to start the season.

Whether this is a tactic on Tice's part to light a fire under the team or a legitimate concern that his team is farther behind than it should be, Tice has made it clear that positions within the roster and jobs themselves will start being on the line Saturday when the Vikings open the preseason against the Jaguars. It may seem like an idle threat to some, but those whose livelihoods are contingent on Tice's approval are taking notice.

* Doug Chapman was named starting RB for Saturday's game, although all four of the top RBs in camp – Chapman, Moe Williams, Onterrio Smith and Larry Ned – will see time behind the first-team offensive line.
* Michael Bennett will have his cast remain on his foot an additional two weeks, meaning it won't come off until about Labor Day. Despite the delay, the team and Bennett continue to harp on the corporate line that he should be ready to return by mid-October if the foot is healing properly. * Kelly Campbell and Nate Burleson have established themselves as Nos. 3-4 wide receivers on the Vikings current depth chart, leaving lingering doubts that Derrick Alexander will make the team. It is currently unknown if Alexander is willing to accept the role as the No. 5 receiver – or if it will even be available once the final cutdowns occur.
* Jim Kleinsasser was scheduled to have an MRI on his ailing foot Wednesday. Kleinsasser is suffering from plantar fasciitis – an injury that has plagued some careers and ended others. He has tried to play through the injury, but it flared up during Tuesday's passing camp.
* All four of the Vikings' injured CBs returned to practice Wednesday and are expected to play Saturday.

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