Rob's Reaction: Defensive Depth

The Vikings are hoping to get more pressure from their starters on the defensive line, but the rotational depth is also looking strong if Saturday's workouts with the Chiefs were any indication.

The talk surrounding the defensive line heading into training camp was all about the front line of starters. After a breakout rookie season from Kevin Williams and what Vikings fans hope will be a return to great production from Chris Hovan, the middle of the defensive line has its starters in place.

When the Vikings drafted Kenechi Udeze and Darrion Scott in the first three rounds and continue to expect production from veterans Lance Johnstone (10 sacks in 2003) and Kenny Mixon on the ends, there is reason for great optimism on the D-line, now and into the future.

But it isn't jus the starters that are impressing.

During Saturday afternoon's practice with the Kansas City Chiefs, the Vikings also showed they have very solid depth up front as well. Veteran nose tackle Steve Martin continued to look very strong, consistently beating his opposition from the Chiefs, and defensive Chuck Wiley, mainly considered a run-stopping, rotational end, also look very good.

After years of worrying about the production of the defensive line in Minnesota, those worries could be over. From the best player to the seventh- or eighth-best on the line, the Vikings have a strong crew set for rotation in 2004.

NOTES
* Defensive tackle Brock Lesnar was taken off the field with assistance during the afternoon session of practice against the Chiefs. Lesnar, who was a leading source of fights between the Chiefs and Vikings during practices Friday, was poked in the eye.

* As the Vikings' biggest outside free-agent signing in team history, Antoine Winfield is getting much of the attention from the press. But his presence on the field could force more action Brian Williams' way. That wasn't great news Saturday, when Williams was burned deep twice by the Chiefs, who are missing some of their top receivers because of injury.



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