Tice Impatient with Special Teams

Head coach Mike Tice saw just about everything bad a special teams unit could do in one game Saturday. On Monday, his frustration boiled over as the same mistakes continued.

Mike Tice rarely minces words when it comes to his expectations of his players. Monday during the final week of training camp in Mankato, he was true to form. One of the objects of his anger was CB Carey Scott. Scott, who is fighting for a roster spot, was the infamous 12th man on the field Saturday night when the Vikings were penalized on a Jacksonville punt with 2:25 to play. The Vikings offense wouldn't get a chance for a game-winning score, because the Jags used the first down to run out the clock.

On Monday during practice, Scott did the same thing – being the 12th man as the team practiced special teams work. Suffice it to say Tice was not pleased.

Whether it has been a change in coaching or personnel on the special teams, the Vikings have had many problems with this critical unit. In Saturday's loss, just about everything went wrong – from awful coverage to a 20-yard punt that could have been a 10-yarder to penalties to confused players running on and off the field.

The team spent extra time working on special teams Monday and will likely have to continue to do so. Coaches stress that there are three teams on every football team – offense, defense and special teams. If any of them fail, the team can lose. It looks that the first-team offense and defense are doing their parts. But, until the special teams can show some improvement – any improvement – it will remain a liability for the team as a whole.

* The Vikings will conduct their final passing scrimmage of the preseason tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Minnesota State University, Mankato. Because of the number of injuries to the secondary, the scrimmage will be a non-tackling practice.
* In March, the Metrodome turf is finally going to be replaced. After eight years of a hard surface deemed by players in a poll as the fourth-worst field surface in the NFL, the Vikes are going to join several other teams that have gone to Field Turf – a longer artificial surface that sits atop several inches of sand and rubber to simulate natural grass. The good news is that is will likely reduce the turf-related injuries players have suffered at the Dome over the years, but it will also be much more expensive to cover the field for events like the NCAA basketball tournament, concerts and indoor motorsports events at the Metrodome.
* Tice indicated Monday, as reported by VU following Saturday's game with the Jaguars, that if RB Onterrio Smith continues to play well, he has a very good shot of winning the starting job by the season opener vs. Green Bay.
* Larry Ned has gone from the penthouse to the outhouse with one key fumble. A Cinderella story for the local Twin Cities media earlier in camp, his key fumble that was returned 97 yards for a TD has put his future with the team in jeopardy. VU has been told that Ned and James Wofford are competing for one roster spot and that Ned's game-turning fumble did little to help his chances in that battle.
* Raonall Smith missed Monday's practice with a hamstring injury. Smith, who missed all of last season and has missed several practices this year, isn't likely to be cut, but VU has been told that the coaching staff is losing some patience with his persistent injury problems.
* The Vikings signed DL Andrew Tippins of Minnesota State, Mankato (a short trip) Monday. He replaces Kane Anderson, who announced his retirement after Saturday's game.

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