Shaping Up Out Of The Gate

The Vikings players were put through a conditioning test as the ending to their first practice of training camp, and the test revealed who was in shape and who had extra work to do. Plus, find out where first-round pick Kenechi Udeze fit into the initial practice rotation.

Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice sees a long, tough first week of training camp ahead, so he ended Saturday's opening practice with a half-hour conditioning test, designed to find out who had or hadn't been working out on his own.

"We don't do it as a punishment, we do it more as an indicator," Tice said. "This test indicates that everyone is ready to go."

Tice put the whole team through a set of sprints, but a few players had to do some extra running based on a precamp weigh-in. One of the standouts was rookie Brock Lesnar, the former professional wrestler who is trying to take up football some 10 years after last playing in high school.

"He's got a long way to go," Tice said. "We're excited to see his work ethic. Hopefully, he can carve out a niche on this football team."

Tice then quickly cut off an follow-up questions on Lesnar, who has drawn considerable media and fan attention.

"I'm just trying not to look like a fool out there," Lesnar said. "Everybody has been real patient with me. I couldn't ask for anything more."


No. 1 draft choice Kenechi Udeze went through his first practice Saturday morning. Udeze signed Friday evening and made it to Mankato in time for evening meetings.

Udeze, who is expected to start at right end, was working with the second unit, and Lance Johnstone was the first unit's right end. But Udeze is working with the first nickel defense.

"I'm glad he's here in time," Tice said. "Every minute a guy like that misses would have hurt him.

"He has great explosiveness. We anticipate great things from him early."

Udeze, who had 16.5 sacks last season at Southern California, said he is still learning the system, and he hopes soon to crack the starting lineup.

"I think I have the tools and mindset to do so," he said.

Linebacker Dontarrious Thomas, the Vikings' second-round pick, was the only player not at practice Saturday as contract negotiations have hit an impasse.

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