What's The Veteran Situation?

After the Vikings drafted three defensive players on the first day of the draft, it will have an effect on the veterans in those positions. And what is Chris Hovan saying about his outlook for this year?

Nick Rogers' position is up in the air. He ended last season as the weak-side linebacker, but was moved to right defensive end after the season.

But after the Vikings selected two defensive ends on the first day of the draft — Kenechi Udeze and Darrion Scott — Rogers could be moved back to linebacker. First-round pick Udeze will start at right end.

The Vikings still consider Rogers one of their best pass rushers. He played defensive end at Georgia Tech, but is undersized as an NFL defensive end.

It's possible Rogers will join Lance Johnstone as a situational pass rusher. In the nickel defense, Udeze probably will move to left end, replacing Kenny Mixon, while Rogers or Johnstone will move in at right end.

Scott can also play left end and some inside at tackle. He is expected to back up Mixon on base downs and be insurance in case Mixon receives a suspension from the NFL for his multiple alcohol-related offenses.

Hovan's new look, new attitude
While the Vikings beefed up their defensive line with fresh young talent on Day 1 of the draft, veteran tackle Chris Hovan continues an offseason routine he hopes will make him a better player, a team leader and avoid a recurrence of what even he now admits was a dismal 2003 season.

Hovan bought a condo in San Diego, started taking martial arts and has sought advice from perennial Pro Bowl players Junior Seau and John Lynch, who became his workout partners at a popular facility in Southern California.

Hovan also has dropped 13 pounds. He played most of the 2003 season at 308. His best years came when he was at his current 295.

"I got caught up in wanting to bulk up and get stronger," Hovan said. "I lost what made me one of the best players, and that's being the fastest defensive lineman off the ball in the league. I'm still plenty strong enough at 295."

Hovan also vows to tone down his trash talking. Although he has made a name for himself nationally because of a running two-year feud with Packers quarterback Brett Favre, Hovan now admits it was a distraction.

"The whole media thing with Brett (Favre) was a mistake," Hovan said. "I didn't need to do that. There were just a whole bunch of factors outside the game that I did last year that didn't help me become a better player.

"I'm still going to be Chris Hovan — crazy and out there. But I realize more that I should just shut up and play football. Let my actions speak for themselves."

Hovan, the Vikings' first pick in 2000, is one of three first-rounders the Vikings will start on the defensive line this season. Tackle Kevin Williams (2003) and right end Udeze (2004) are the others.

Red's new defense
Owner Red McCombs was so excited about his team's upgrade defensively on the first day of the draft he said, "We're looking so strong on defense, we may not be scored on." Then he winked and laughed.

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