Will New Turf Change Vikings?

The new turf at the Metrodome is down and ready to start getting used Monday as the Twins open their 2004 season. But some around the Vikings are asking whether the turf will change the way the Vikings approach the game.

For fans, the old turf at the Metrodome resembled that of the old school turf of the 1980s and 1990s -- essentially green colored cement that resulted in a host of injuries.

Starting tomorrow, those days are over at the Metrodome. A new synthetic field turf has been laid down and the Twins will inaugurate it at their home opener.

The turf is considerably longer and has both the look and feel of grass. The question now being posed is whether the new turf will affect how the Vikings do business.

When he was coach, Denny Green used the turf to his advantage, transforming the Vikings into a finesse, speed team as opposed to the old Purple People Eaters of years gone by. Mike Tice continued that trend, drafting players for speed.

But with the new grass-like field, will that change? Probably not right away, but the need for lightning speed may be reduced somewhat. It's going to slow the game down a little because it resembles grass that is close to requiring a mowing -- much longer than most synthetic turf.

While the plan is to reduce injuries and make the turf more pleasing to the eye, it could end up tweaking how the Vikings play the game -- which likely wasn't the intention of its inventors.

* Starting Monday and continuing for the next two weeks, VU will break down the NFL draft position by position, putting the Vikings' needs and personnel into perspective with who is available on draft day. We start with quarterbacks Monday and continue through both offense and defense. Be sure to check back and see if your predictions hold up with ours.
* Also coming early this week, VU expands its mock draft to two rounds and, for the first time since we started our mock draft coverage weeks ago, we no longer have Will Smith lasting until the Vikings at the 19th pick. Who's there now? Check back in Monday and find out.

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