Swinging Around The Cornerback

With Brian Williams out and another cornerback missing Monday, the Vikings shuffled their depth chart around in hopes of riding out the storm. Meanwhile, another player returned to practice and the rest of the injury news was good.

A week ago, the Minnesota Viking seemed set at cornerback with free agent Antoine Winfield, third-year player Brian Williams and some pretty good depth.

But Williams suffered a knee injury, and backup Ken Irvin missed Monday's practice to deal with some family issues, and now coach Mike Tice is concerned.

"There was no swelling in [Williams'] knee which is good news," Tice said. "But he'll still be out two to four weeks."

Williams suffered a sprained knee in the first quarter of Saturday's preseason opener, and Tice said it's questionable that he'll be back for the season opener Sept. 12 against Dallas. Irvin's absence is expected to last just one day.

In his place, second-year cornerback Rushen Jones will practice with the first team.

Further down the depth chart, Reggie Austin, who was signed last week, has moved ahead of Horace Willis at the No. 5 position, and Tice said he's moving safety Oliver Celestin, who played in the NFL Europe, to cornerback to see if he can handle both roles. He lauded Celestin's play on special teams.

"He's a really good athlete, he really likes to hit," Tice said. "His chances of making the team are better if he can be a swing guy."

The rest of the injury news was good. Tight end Jim Kleinsasser has a strained groin, and linebacker Mike Nattiel has a sprained shoulder.

Both are expected to miss a day or two of practice.

Running back Moe Williams, who missed most of last week with a strained calf, returned to practice Monday, although he will be brought back slowly.

Tice was concerned about holder Darren Bennett, who dropped a snap that caused kicker Aaron Elling to miss a 51-yard field goal Saturday. Tice said that dropped snaps have been a problem, and backup quarterback Gus Frerotte will get some work as a holder.

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