Position Switch Around The Corner

The Vikings wrapped up the first of three weeks of developmental camp with a position switch for one player and plenty of practice highlights and notes for other players.

After being drafted by the Vikings in the sixth round, defensive back Deandre' Eiland explained why he played so many different positions in his senior year at South Carolina.

"I came in and they wanted me to play full-time corner the whole season and then full-time corner at the nickel," Eiland said. "They had one guy that was fighting for the position. I was going from nickel to corner. Then we had a little bit of trouble at the safety position and they put me there for a game.

"I feel real comfortable at the inside, like the nickel position. I like free safety too. It gives me a chance to use my speed in the open field. Free safety and corner are about the same it really doesn't matter."

If it seems like Eiland didn't have a set position in college, that may be the case again in pros.

On Thursday, the Vikings moved Eiland from cornerback to safety, and it sounds like he believes that transition will be easier than the one he made in going from South Carolina and the NCAA to the Vikings and the NFL.

Friday Eiland described the transition to the pro game as "a real big one and a quick one. I had to get the realization that everybody's good at this level."

He made the switch to safety this week because the coaches thought there was too much talented competition in front of him at cornerback. Excluding Eiland, the Vikings have six cornerbacks in developmental camp, with only Rushen Jones and Rhett Nelson with fewer than two years of experience. The fact that Jermaine Mays and Horace Willis are each having a good spring in NFL Europe also prompted Eiland's move to safety.

But it won't be easy for Eiland to find playing time there either. With Brian Russell and Corey Chavous as the starters, and Tyrone Carter, Willie Offord and Ben Nauman as backups, the talent and experience is deep there too.

"That's another place where they've got real good safeties in front of me, so I'm just trying to sit back and get better learning from them while playing special teams. Maybe in a couple years my chance will come," Eiland said.

While special teams contributions are where Eiland could earn playing time in the near future, he thinks learning the safety position will come quickly.

"I'm picking up on it pretty quick. In another day or two I should have it down," he said.

"Once I get everything down and know my assignments, either one of them is interchangeable. I'm just as comfortable at safety as I was at corner once I learn what I'm doing."

"It's more of an easier physical job (at safety) and tougher mental job."

He will get a chance to display his weekend book knowledge when the Vikings open up the second week of developmental camp on Monday.

* Rookie wide receiver Blake Elliott, a former standout with Division III national champion St. John's University, broke his left fibula Friday in practice. The injury occurred at noon during a one-on-one passing drill and he was carted off the field. He could have surgery as early as this weekend.
* Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson sat out of full-team drills again Friday while coming off of knee surgery the week after minicamp to repair a torn meniscus. He continued to work on mobility tests with the training staff when the Vikings practiced seven-on-seven or as a full team on Friday.
* ABC's "Monday Night Football" was in town Thursday filming the head shot video portion for their two broadcasts with the Vikings in 2004. The Vikings play at Philadelphia on Monday, Sept. 20 and at Indianapolis on Monday, Nov. 8.
* Tice stopped practice several times on Friday, twice to go into teacher mode in helping the offensive linemen with their blocking assignments and twice to yell at the players to concentrate more and close out a "great week of work" on a strong note.
* Tight end Sean Berton got a hearty applause from his teammates when he made an over-the-shoulder catch during one-on-one drills and "dunked" the ball over the crossbar.
* The first-, second- and third-team offenses all got the job done while working on the two-minute drill. With each of them starting from their own 35-yard line and put in the situation of needing a field goal to win, the first team got a 37-yard field goal from Aaron Elling on fourth-and-8, the second team got a 46-yard touchdown by Kenny Clark with a great catch in traffic, and the third team got a 31-yard field goal from Elling.
* Friday's battle between first-round defensive end Kenechi Udeze and fourth-round left tackle Nat Dorsey was won by Udeze. During full-team practice, Udeze beat Dorsey to the outside for a sack. A few plays later, Dorsey responded by getting his big hands on Udeze and keeping him out of the backfield. But Udeze responded a couple plays later, first by getting Dorsey to commit a false start, then by getting another sack.
* Lance Johnstone is still holding on to the starting job at right defensive end, but Udeze is replacing Kenny Mixon at left end in the nickel defense.
* If your dad is a Vikings fan, you can sign him up for a membership to VikingUpdate.com for Father's Day. Just log out of your account, create a new account under his e-mail address and have it placed on your credit card. You can select the combined annual membership to the Viking Update magazine (22 issues a year) and the online membership for $79.95. The account will automatically renew each year unless your father elects to cancel it or your credit card information changes.

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