Tice Talk May Not Be Legit

With all the talk about playing starters until coach Mike Tice is satisfied -- which could be a long night for the defensive starters vs. Oakland -- don't look for that to come to fruition. With playing lives on the line Tuesday, look for the fringe guys to make their last stand.

It took awhile for VU to firmly grasp what we referred to as "Greenspeak" -- Denny Green's propensity to give away his true intent veiled in a mixture of cliches and veiled references to his actual intent. By the time the Vikes hit it big in 1998, we had Greenspeak down cold and were viewed as a modern-day version of Nostradamus when it came to interpreting his words.

Mike Tice has been a little easier. With the exception of his deception over interest in Kevin Williams -- which resulted in a cascade of boos from paying customers at the team's draft party -- Tice has been an easy read for VU veterans.

So it is with his vow to keep starters on the field tonight vs. the Raiders until he's satisfied. With more than a dozen players staring the end of their NFL dream straight in the eye next Tuesday, Tice is more likely to give those on the bubble a serious look before shattering their hopes of NFL stardom.

In the not-too-distant past, rosters were cut before the third preseason game. Now, they're held intact until after the third game, players on the bubble not only have an additional chance to impress their own coaches, they have film to show other teams lacking at a specific position their worth.

With not only starting jobs up for grabs, but roster spots as well, don't expect to see a lot of front-line Vikings playing deep into the second half tonight. As a former player, Tice will be more likely to give someone on the fringe a chance to shine before the Turk comes calling next week.

* It's looking more likely that Michael Bennett's prediction of playing by midseason isn't going to happen. While formal results of his foot injection procedure won't be announced for a couple of weeks, VU has been told that the team is planning on going on without him in 2003.
* The Philadelphia rumor mill has included the Vikings as a team interested in signing disgruntled RB Duce Staley. Don't buy into it. With a $2.2 million salary, an injury history and a clear display of putting himself ahead of his teammates, the Vikings don't look to have any interest in surrendering a second-round pick for Staley. The Bears, on the other hand, are a different story -- which is why they'll be battling the Lions for draft position next year.
* The current word being sent out from the inside of Winter Park to Twin Cities media slappies is that the Vikes have no intention of bringing back Gary Anderson. Then again, the same line was thrown out last year -- until missed field goals cost the Vikings wins.
* A Raiders source of VU's told us Thursday that the team may be without RB Charlie Garner and CB Phillip Buchanon tonight. Both are entrenched starters with injuries, so there's no need to press them into duty in a meaningless game.
* On the Raiders depth chart, Pro Bowl center Barret Robbins is currently listed as the fourth center on the team's depth chart. VU has been told that, despite his obvious talent and much-publicized bi-polar disorder, he has alienated enough teammates that his future with the team is in doubt.
* You have to love the Arizona Cardinals -- the Vikings' final preseason opponent. Not only did they allow QB Jake Plummer and WR David Boston to get away and overspend for Emmitt Smith, they proved the adage that the fish rots at the head again Thursday. Fed up with the performance of RB Thomas Jones, the seventh overall pick in the 2000 draft, they traded him to the defending champion Buccaneers for wide receiver Marquis Walker. Thursday, the Cards released Walker. Oy vey.

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