Lurtsema's Reaction: Better Talent, More Pressure

The Vikings added speed to their roster, and with more than just Troy Williamson. But with the all-around increase in talent comes raised expectations and more pressure to go deep into the playoffs.

Runs like a deer. That's the answer I'm giving to everyone who asks me about the Minnesota Vikings' No. 1 draft choice out of South Carolina, Troy Williamson. With his 4.3 speed, he put a move on cornerback Fred Smoot, one of the better offseason acquisitions, for about a 70-yard touchdown bomb in minicamp. Williamson made it look easy, as his running ability comes so naturally to him. Of course, he does have a lot to learn, but when they draft him for his speed alone, the Vikings must send him on a deep route at least seven to eight times per game to receive the full impact of his best asset. Now I'm not talking about a Randy Moss ratio, but merely encouraging a situation that wouldn't allow defensive backs to have the luxury of playing closer to the front seven.

The Vikings' other first-round choice, defensive end Erasmus James, brings that deer-like speed in a different manner. He has tremendous quickness off the ball, great balance and his acceleration, once in the open area, is done in a style that allows him to run low to the ground. Speed, balance and a low center of gravity are the best attributes a defensive lineman can have.

The second-round draft choice, offensive lineman Marcus Johnson, is one who might actually be able to make a contribution this year. At 6-foot-6, 321 pounds, Johnson looks trim, soft on his feet, and I always support linemen who like to mix it up with a few fisticuffs as he did in a practice when he lined up against last year's first-round draft choice Kenechi Udeze. Add offseason acquisition wide receiver Travis Taylor to this group, and it gives me tremendous optimism for this upcoming season.

The veteran leadership has taken over the defense, and did that create a fun atmosphere during this minicamp. Since Mike Tice took over as head coach, there are only five offensive players remaining and none on defense. Coach Tice and the Vikings' staff have reloaded this defense with draft choices and quality veterans in their offseason acquisitions. There is no reason this year that this football team should not be in the Super Bowl. That's right, Bob "Rah-Rah" said Super Bowl because watching this defense perform the last three days has been a joy.

Mr. Rah-Rah does have one negative thing to say, but it's not about the Vikings. I've always wished success to everyone except Maurice Clarett. I'm merely venting now because I feel in my heart that it's an honor to play in the National Football League and not a right. Mike Tice has brought in the high-character players that you want to have on a championship team, and that's why, Mike, the pressure is on you. You have the talent this year to take it all the way.

Bob Lurtsema is a former NFL defensive lineman who played for the Vikings, New York Giants and Seahawks. He is the publisher of Viking Update.


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