Injuries Remain Talking Points

While the focus of the Vikings minicamp has been to acclimate new players with the existing core than came within a play of winning the NFC North last year, injuries remain at the forefront of things to watch at minicamp.

Randy Moss' ailing left foot was the talk of minicamp when it opened Friday. But Moss was far from alone in the questioning about coming off injuries.

Chris Claiborne has quickly become one of the older veterans in a young, depth-free linebacker corps. But he has been extremely limited due to heel surgery in January. He faced the volley of questions concerning the injury and said he is doing much better and is on the road to recovery.

Claiborne had a bone spur the size of half a golf ball removed from his heel at the end of his Achilles tendon and said the relief from the agonizing pain that sent him to the bench the final month of the season has come. He hopes to be at 100 percent when training camp opens July 31.

Michael Bennett, who missed much of last season with a foot injury, proclaimed himself to VU to be 100 percent and the freak accident that caused his problems is a thing of the past. He showed up to minicamp five pounds lighter and is ready to regain his pre-injury speed and form. Both Bennett and coach Mike Tice are confident that he can carry a full workload again. However, Tice added that he needs to find a way to get another ball on the field when the Vikings offense is out there -- "we only have one ball and a lot of guys who want it," Tice told VU.

Kenechi Udeze is also looking to use this time to dispel talk that his shoulder injury was more serious than let on. Udeze, who seemed a near lock to go in the top 10 picks, slipped all the way to No. 20 to the Vikings because of concerns over his shoulder injury. While the contact at minicamp is limited, Udeze has shown little in the way of ill effects over the injury.

While there are still more than three months until the first preseason game, the Vikings have several key players that will require monitoring of injuries between now and then. VU will keep track of the progress and let you know how the injuries are healing before camp opens.

* The Vikings administration wasn't as upset by the defeat of the house bill in the State Legislature for stadium funding as you might think. The proposal that got killed included a provision for tax increment financing districts for the stadium sites, which wouldn't have been nearly as helpful for the Vikings cause as it would be for a Twins stadium. While the chances of a bill coming out of this session have diminished, VU is being told that's not necessarily a bad thing in the bigger picture.
* A battle that could be shaping up will be at punter, where Eddie Johnson once again looks great in a minicamp. Last year, Johnson fell apart at midseason and his poor punting not only cost the Vikings at least one game, it forced the team to sign veteran Leo Araguz at the end of the year. To that end, the team brought in ageless Darren Bennett, one of the top distance punters in the NFL. It was thought Johnson would merely provide competition for Bennett in camp, but he has looked so good in minicamp that he has raised some eyebrows and has some looking a full-out training camp battle.
* After breaking training camp, the Vikings announced that they would practice and have a scrimmage Aug. 24 at the National Sports Center in Blaine. The NSC is near the proposed site for a new Vikings stadium in Anoka County.

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