Lane Danielsen is generously listed at 6 feet tall on the Minnesota Vikings roster. He is working alongside Randy Moss, 6-foot-4, and Marcus Robinson, 6-foot-3.
But more than the physical stature of his NFL teammates, wide receiver Danielsen is having to adjust to a new system as a rookie with the Vikings. It's all new for the former Iowa State Cyclone.
"The game is so much faster and the offenses are so much more complicated, and that has been the thing that has been hardest for me. I was in the Iowa State offense for five years basically, and you get up here and everything's new, from the formations to the cadence," Danielsen said. "Everything's new, and then you throw in the fact that everything is 10 times more complicated.
"Minicamp (in May) was kind of a crash-test course for me. They just throw you in there and I stayed up late studying in my hotel trying to nail things down. So now I feel like I've got a pretty good grasp where they can throw these plays at me and I can pick them up a lot faster because I have the base of the offense down right now.
"Every day we've continued to put a lot more in, and I like that a lot because I continue to learn. I'm being more and more confident that I can pick things up."
It's not all bad for Danielsen. He knew the Vikings were interested in him after the Combine, and he has gotten the support of his fellow receivers.
"I've actually grown accustomed to this pretty quick, and I've got a few veteran leaders in Moss, (Nate) Burleson and Marcus Robinson," Danielsen said. "They're a lot quicker to help me out than I probably thought they would be. It's actually gone pretty good."
Going from watching Moss on television to practicing alongside one of the NFL's best receivers has been a bit of a transition as well, but Danielsen has shown no signs of being in awe.
"It took a little while to get used to that, sitting in a meeting room with Randy Moss, a guy I've been watching since I was late in high school," he said. "Even Marcus Robinson, I was watching him when he was with the Bears. It's really neat, and it's even more neat that they are willing to help me out, just a rookie free agent — undrafted. If I do something wrong, whether it's in the locker room or meeting room or even out here on the field, they're real eager to help me out. That means a lot to me."
Another help to the wide receiver has been his familiarity with Steve Loney, Danielsen's offensive coordinator for two seasons at Iowa State and the Vikings' current offensive line coach.
Loney was the coordinator during Danielsen's redshirt freshman and sophomore years, the years the Cyclones went to the Insight.com Bowl and the Independence Bowl. Danielsen started his sophomore year and "played quite a bit" his freshman year.
Loney was the guy that called Danielson after the NFL draft in April. "He basically told me, ‘Lane, as a friend and a coach, I think you're going to have a great chance up here.' Coach Tice really liked me at the Combine and he brought my name up," Danielsen said. "They didn't know if they were going to draft a receiver or not, but I was one of their top receivers if I didn't get drafted, or maybe late in the sixth or seventh round they were looking at me too. It worked out all right. I feel really blessed."
He said he had about seven other teams offer him a contract, "but I felt like this was going to be the best fit. These guys wanted me the most."
Two other factors helped put Danielsen in purple. The Twin Cities are a 2-1/2 hour drive from his hometown of Dike, Iowa, and the Vikings offered him "significant more" in signing bonus money than the other teams he talked with, which he took as a sign that the Vikings wanted him more than other teams.
That had good reason to show interest. He led the Cyclones in receptions every season since his sophomore campaign. He posted 46 catches for 772 yards and five touchdowns in 2003 after career numbers of 63-1,073-3 as a junior.
Now it is up to Danielsen to show that the college player from Iowa State belongs in the NFL, and that the transition from one playbook to another isn't too much for him.
"Right now, we probably have three times more plays than Iowa State's whole offense, just for pass plays," he said halfway through the Vikings' developmental camp. "And we're probably not even half way done from what I've heard from the vet guys. When you get to training camp, they put even more in. At Iowa State we didn't have a real complicated passing game. … There are so many more variations and so many more sight adjustments on the go. You have to be able to read and the route will convert. I like it a lot more though."
* Tuesday was the final day of organized practices at Winter Park until the Vikings return from training camp. The last day was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but head coach Mike Tice is taking the players to Lake Minnetonka for a team "bass derby" for the final day.
* The linebackers didn't drop one pass in an extended change of direction and ball location drill Tuesday.
* Linebacker Mike Nattiel was on the sideline with a walking cast on his right ankle after spraining it in Monday's practice.
* Cornerback Eric Kelly was a no-show for practice again Tuesday. The team is likely to decide his fate later this week.
* The defense spent a good amount of time having the linebackers and safeties call out the proper defense under Ted Cottrell's new system.
* Cornerback Jermaine Mays, fresh off his NFL Europe World Bowl victory on Saturday was at his first practice this spring. He received "World Bowl" barbs from Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss a few times during practice.
* Veterans David Dixon, Ken Irvin and Chris Claiborne were all excused from this week's practices for personal reasons.
Former Cyclone Working For NFL Future
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