Tice Turns Up The Intensity

Some players are getting kudos from head coach Mike Tice and others are separating themselves negatively as the Vikings turned up the intensity in practice to closer reflect game situations. Find out who is rising, who is falling, who will have to switch positions to stay on the team, who is fighting, and other notes from an intense morning of practice.

At the beginning of camp, Vikings coach Mike Tice couldn't pronounce Rushen Jones' first name. He tried Roo-SHAWN and ROO-shin before he just asked.

Now, he knows more about Rushen (pronounced Russian) Jones because he shows up nearly every time he's on the field.

"From the first day we signed him, I've loved the kid," Tice said. "There's no substitute for smart players."

Jones, an undrafted rookie from Vanderbilt, has been one of training camp's biggest surprises, which has been especially important considering the injuries the Vikings have suffered at that position.

Denard Walker missed a week with a hamstring strain, and starter Ken Irvin suffered a dislocated toe in Saturday's preseason game against Jacksonville, although Tice said Irvin might return next week. Brian Williams also missed time with a hamstring injury, and Eric Kelly is still out with a hamstring injury.

"The extra reps have really helped me out," Jones said. "I've had a chance to work with the older guys. The big thing is to know the playbook."

Tice said that Jones has played well on the defense, and special teams coach Rusty Tillman gave Jones kudos for his play Saturday on the punt and kick return units.

"I think I did fairly well," Jones said. "You can always improve your technique or your tackling, but it was just the first game. I just want to take it one day at a time and work as hard as I can.

"Nothing is promised you."

The intensity level at the morning practice Monday was noticeably higher, with the coaches, including Tice, screaming at players several times.

"Now that we've started the games, the intensity level has to go up," Tice said. "Unfortunately for some, when the intensity level went up, they couldn't keep up."

Tice stopped practice several times and hollered for a particular special-teams unit to take the field. He was trying to clear up problems with the special teams that occurred during Saturday's preseason game with Jacksonville. On one of the Jaguars' PAT kicks, there were only nine players on the field, and there were 12 players on the field for the final punt, which allowed Jacksonville to retain possession and run out the clock. On other plays, the players were running in and out at the last second.

* The intense practice ended with a fight between tackle Adam Haayer and linebacker Nick Rogers.

* The big hit of the day again came from safety Brian Russell, who nailed receiver Cedric James near the sideline at the end of a reverse.

* Tice said he gave rookie defensive lineman Kane Anderson the morning off, and if he wanted to remain with the team Anderson would have to switch to tight end. Anderson played tight end for his first three years at New Hampshire.

* Quarterback Daunte Culpepper hooked up twice on long passes to Kelly Campbell, who played some with Randy Moss in the two-receiver sets.

* Veteran Doug Chapman and rookie Onterrio Smith have moved ahead of the rest of the running backs for the starting job. On Smith, Tice said, "Once those bright lights came on, he came on."

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