Special Teams Draw Tice's Ire

On Wednesday, Mike Tice praised his special teams. On Thursday, he challenged them and they failed the challenge, creating disappointment for the head coach. Plus, find out which tight end is coming on strong and what the cornerbacks are saying about each other.

Exactly one day after praising his special teams for the progress they've been making, head coach Mike Tice did an about face. Tice ripped his specialty units after Thursday's morning workout, saying they were unable to handle some last-minute personnel changes he made before practice.

"You try to make them think sometimes, and you make a bunch of roster moves as they're coming on the field," Tice said. "And you switch some positions and you take a couple of linemen and you move them around.

"The reason why you do that is to see how they think on their feet. Because in order to play at this level at this speed, you have to be able to think on your feet. And if you can't think on your feet you can't play fast, and if you can't play fast you can't play in the National Football League."

Tice said the discouraging thing about the morning practice was the number of offsides penalties. A few special teams players were not out on the field when they should have been and most of them were the guys Tice made changes with.

"It just shows you where they're at mentally as young players," he said. "They're not mature enough right this second to give us the ability to count on them.

"So we've got a long way to go. I'm a little disappointed in some of the lack of tempo because of that and I don't think we ended practice the right way. I'm disappointed in how we worked this morning."

Tice declined to name any specific players who made mistakes.

Special teams coach Rusty Tillman agreed there were some problems Thursday but also said they were correctable.

"We made some changes on special teams so that affected our (second and third) teams. Special teams are tough to organize (to begin with), and then (coach Tice) threw a couple of different ones at us and some things got a little screwed up."

Tillman said the personnel on the special teams change daily and it's tough to keep up with.

"But we do our best. We made some mistakes but it will be fine (the next practice). There won't be any problems at all."

Second-year player Cullen Loeffler, the team's long snapper, also saw mistakes Thursday. He admitted that disrupting the tempo of the drills when players are late getting on to the field can be a problem.

"There were a lot of young guys being throw in there and they have to be accountable. They have to know their stuff. They're not knowing their keys, they're not getting lined up right and it makes for a poor special teams practice.

"It's a little frustrating because it throws off the rhythm of the game, you know, the rhythm of the practice. That's why we have practice to work those kinks out."

Like Tillman, Loeffler expects the situation to be rectified quickly.

"That stuff that happened today will be adjusted. We'll look at film and the coaches will talk to those players that weren't out there at the right time and make sure they know what they're supposed to be doing and know their assignments."

No blood feud

Veteran Fred Smoot was signed in the offseason to take over the starting right cornerback position in place of last year's starter, Brian Williams.

Both players say their relationship has been great so far.

"There's no animosity," Williams said. "How could I have any with Fred
because he's my teammate. It's not about the individual, it's just about coming together and working."

Smoot, who has missed all of training camp so far with a neck injury, agrees: "We've had long talks and I don't feel any animosity. He just needs to get out there and play.

"When I was a rookie I came in and looked at my meeting room and it was
Champ Bailey and Deion Sanders and Darrell Green. So you never know what's going to happen. His time is coming."

Culpepper likes receivers

Despite the trade of Randy Moss, Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper likes his corps of receivers.

"I feel real good about our depth. I think we have five guys, five solid receivers that can go in to every situation to make a play. That's what I really like and all the guys are working extremely hard to get better every day."

Plays of the day

Backup tight end Richard Angulo is taking advantage of Jim Kleinsasser's limited practice time to raise a few eyebrows. He made three quality plays Thursday morning during passing drills.

On the first one, Culpepper found Angulo down the middle of the field for a 25-yard gain. A few minutes later, backup quarterback Brad Johnson hit the tight end in almost the exact same spot with another 25-yard pass.

Just before the end of practice, Culpepper rolled right and threw all the way across the field to a well-covered Angulo, who caught the pass in stride before going out of bounds.

"I'm just trying to make the most of my opportunities," the 6-foot-8,
283-pound Angulo said. "I'm trying to be a big target out there and make some plays.

"When Jimmy sees something out there he's real good about coming over to talk to me. Jermaine (Wiggins) is good about talking to me about route-running, too."

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