Running back is the deepest position on the Vikings this season and it may be getting deeper. Head coach Mike Tice praised the efforts of rookie fourth-round draft choice Mewelde Moore after Sunday's morning practice.
Moore, a 5-foot-11, 209-pound runner out of Tulane, looked good during morning drills, particularly as a receiver out of the backfield.
"He made some nice catches today and seems to have a good feel for that part of the game," Tice said. "It looks like he might make a good third-down back."
Moore agreed that his hands may be his best attribute. The first-year back said he was glad Tice liked what he saw and doesn't mind being pigeon-holed early in camp.
"A lot of players say labels are good, and if (the coaches) want to label me as a third-down back, then that's great," Moore said. "I'm just going to go out and play as hard as I can and try to take advantage of every opportunity I get."
The workouts in Mankato are not the first professional training camp for Moore. He played three summers in the San Diego Padres minor league system out of high school. Moore played mostly left field and center field.
Between practices on Sunday, head coach Mike Tice talked about intangibles. He said he liked the focus and enthusiasm the players displayed in the morning practice and now wants to see them carry that over.
"Our defense was definitely intent on getting to the football today," he said. "Now we have to see if we can sustain that drive and passion over longer practices and scrimmages and then for whole games. And when we do that, then we have to sustain it for a whole season."
NO THOMAS, NO COMMENT
Second-round draft choice Dontarrious Thomas, a linebacker from Auburn, was again a no-show Sunday. His agents are still negotiating a contract with the Vikings. Tice refused to answer any questions about the missing player.
"I've always been a coach who wants to talk about the guys who are here in camp and that hasn't changed," Tice said. "These guys busted their butts in the heat yesterday and today and I'd rather talk about them."
MR. IRRELEVANT NO MORE
Long-shot Ryan Hoag, a receiver out of Division III Gustavus Adolphus College, caught the attention of the coaching staff and fans Sunday with an athletic catch in the corner of the end zone during passing drills. The reception drew the applause of the spectators in the bleachers.
"That was a nice grab he made," Tice said. "He has the speed to be an NFL player. He needs to show us he can do some other things and can stay healthy. We can keep eight players on the practice squad this year and two will probably go to offensive lineman. The rest are wide open."
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