Eight Days To Make An Impression

For players like Lane Danielsen, the next eight days may be the most important of their lives -- as they look to avoid the Turk asking for the playbook.

When the Vikings met the Falcons Friday night, there were a dozen teams represented by scouts and administrators eyeballing the talent on the field. With the first major cutdown date coming Aug. 31, teams will go from 80 players (plus exemptions for those sent to NFL Europe) to 65.

For more than 300 players, it will mean the end of the line with their current team and, for most, the end of their football dream completely.

That's why when the Vikings meet the 49ers Friday night in the third of four preseason games, it will have extra meaning for many players. While the game will be seen as "meaningless" to many fans and casual observers, for those struggling to make the team -- or at least the first round of cuts -- it will be critical.

While the cuts will be more difficult for some teams than the Vikings, who already appear to have a dozen or so players in mind for the Turk to come knocking, telling young men their dream of the NFL is over is not something most coaches want to tolerate. That sad duty will be coming to Mike Tice and 31 other NFL coaches early next week, as the NFL separates the wheat from the chaff in preparation for the 2004 regular season.

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