Offord Adjusting Nicely To New Role

Willie Offord was given a revised role in the first week of training camp and has been excelling with a different opportunity, making big plays at the right time.

Willie Offord is going to make the Minnesota Vikings' final roster, but when it comes to game day, coach Mike Tice said it's tough to have four safeties activated.

So he's looking for more ways to get backup safety Willie Offord on to the field.

"We try to take our backups and give them more of a role on game day," Tice said. "We're trying to expand his role to make him more valuable to the team."

Offord, a third-year player from South Carolina who was drafted in the third round, is the backup free safety behind Brian Russell, and backup strong safety Tyrone Carter is a key member of the pass defense.

So last week Tice moved Offord, who is a standout on special teams, to a linebacker position in the dime package, and Tice said Offord has adapted fine.

During Tuesday's passing scrimmage, Offord picked off a tipped pass and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown. He said he's having the best time of his young professional career.

"I'm a lot more comfortable having been here two years," Offord said.

"Football is football to me, I'll play wherever they ask me to play."

Future Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith visited training camp Tuesday as a guest of defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell. Smith, the NFL's all-time sacks leader with 200, played for Cottrell when Cottrell was the defensive coordinator at Buffalo in the late Œ90s, and he was in Mankato to help tutor some of the young defensive linemen.

"It's quite a privilege and honor for [the defensive linemen]," Tice said.

Center Matt Birk (sports hernia) and running back Moe Williams (calf) have been ruled out of Saturday's preseason game against Arizona at the Metrodome. Tice said that a decision will be made later about receiver Marcus Robinson, who has been slowed by a hamstring problem.

Long snapper Brody Liddiard returned to practice after two days off to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.

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