Udeze Working At RE...For Now

Rookie Kenechi Udeze spent his first official day as a Minnesota Viking doing what most expect he will much of the season -- play right defensive end. Where he wasn't seen Saturday is where he's expected to see at the start of the regular season -- left DE.

Kenechi Udeze was one of the more interesting stories on opening day of training camp. He saw extensive work in a time-share with Lance Johnstone in the base defense and as a pass rusher in third-down situations.

Where he wasn't seen is where he's expected to play the first two games of the regular season -- left defensive end.

Udeze is expected to replace Kenny Mixon, who will be suspended for the first two regular season games, but VU has been told the emphasis right now is getting the rookie acclimated to his long-term position instead of his short-term position.

The plan, as we're being told, is to work Udeze at right end for the first two preseason games before slowly giving him more time at left DE. The plan is to have him ready to make the short-term move to the position in time for the season opener vs. the Cowboys.

* Dontarrious Thomas was the only player absent from the opening day of practice. While he is expected to sign sometime soon, there was no hint of an imminent deal late Saturday.
* As expected, Mike Tice lauded tons of praise on LB Mike Nattiel, who is expected to be competing with Thomas for a starting spot at weakside linebacker.
* Also as expected, Antoine Winfield's first practice was met with rave reviews from coaches and teammates, who are convinced he may be one of the best tacklers -- regardless of position -- in the league.
* The Vikes have extended an invitation for President Bush to attend a practice at training camp. Bush, who will be making a campaign whistle stop in Mankato Wednesday, likely doesn't have the logisitics to set up a side trip to Minnesota State-Mankato, but the team hoped the invitation would allow him to squeeze in a short visit.

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