Claiborne Seeking Better Conditioning

Linebacker Chris Claiborne suffered through much of last season with ankle and shoulder injuries. Now he is at Winter Park and working to put himself in better condition.

Linebacker Chris Claiborne, who wasn't known as the hardest offseason worker when he was with the Lions, is participating in the Vikings' offseason strength and conditioning program.

That's an important step in the eyes of coach Mike Tice.

Although Claiborne was in better shape in his first season with the Vikings in 2003 than he was at any point in Detroit, Tice and the Vikings still worry about Claiborne's conditioning.

Claiborne isn't chiseled, and never will be. But he's beginning to realize he won't be in his mid-20s forever. In other words, he understands he needs help from new strength and conditioning coach Kurtis Shultz if he wants to stay healthy and in the league long-term.

Claiborne played as long as he could with ankle and shoulder injuries in 2003. He was forced to the sideline down the stretch and had offseason surgeries. The Vikings' defense suffered without him.

When he was healthy, Claiborne was a playmaker. The Vikings think he can return to that form, and are banking on him as their strong-side linebacker.

The team needs a new weak-side linebacker because it isn't thrilled with Henri Crockett. If one can't be found, it's possible Claiborne will have to play there.

But that's OK. Claiborne has played all three linebacker positions in his five seasons, so versatility is one of his strengths.

A buff body isn't one of his strengths, but at least he's working it.

* Victory Wheels Inc. unveiled its Randy Moss No. 84 hubcaps during a Vikings-Packers charity basketball game at Target Center.

* Former Vikings quarterback Joe Kapp (1967-69) was elected to the National College Football Hall of Fame.

Viking Update Top Stories