Vikings Compensating For MIAs

The Vikings' once-deep defensive backfield has come to this: After injuries and excused absences, the team was forced to put a receiver in at safety. An offensive player also made a position switch and a few more players missed Friday's morning practice.

Fred Smoot has yet to practice with the Minnesota Vikings, and Brian Williams missed a couple of days with a sore hamstring, then had to leave Minnesota State to attend a family funeral in North Carolina.
On Friday, Ken Irvin didn't participate in the morning practice, having injured his shoulder on Thursday.

Suddenly, the cornerback position, which once looked very deep, is getting thin, with the three players who could line up in tandem with Antoine Winfield all missing practices.

"There's a little concern there," defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell.

On Tuesday, the Vikings brought in former University of Minnesota cornerback Ukee Dozier, and Friday, receiver Ben Nelson, a third-year player from St. Cloud State, was switched to safety.

"The one thing we know is some of our DBs have got really bad hands," Cottrell said. "And this guy's got good hands. I hope he does, He's a receiver, right?"

Smoot is expected to be activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list any day, Williams should be back for practice Monday, and Irvin's injury isn't considered serious.


The defense provided the majority of the big plays during morning practice. Rookie cornerback Laroni Gallishaw stepped in front of receiver Troy Williamson to intercept Brad Johnson's short out route. A couple of plays later, safety Rushen Jones picked off Shaun Hill across the middle.

Johnson to left guard

Second-round draft pick Marcus Johnson has been moved from backup right tackle to backup left guard, getting an opportunity to compete with Adam Goldberg. Johnson had been practicing at right tackle as insurance in case starter Mike Rosenthal wasn't able to rebound from the broken foot that caused him to miss 145 regular-season and two playoff games last season.

"(Rosenthal is) good, that's why we moved Marcus back (to left guard)," said offensive coordinator Steve Loney, who also coaches the linemen. "We feel really good about where Mike is in his rehabilitation."

Officially speaking

A crew of NFL offficials, led by veteran Bernie Kukar, attended Friday's morning practice, then were scheduled to stay in Mankato for the team's first scrimmage Friday night. Kukar also presented a seminar in the afternoon.


The Vikings signed free-agent receivers Avion Black and Daryl Jones. Black is a fourth-year player from Tennessee State, while Jones is in his second year from the University of Miami. The Vikings released receiver Skyler Fulton.


Receiver Kelly Campbell (quad) and center Kyle Schmitt (knee) both missed practice Friday. Tight end Richard Angulo suffered a shoulder injury Friday, though it wasn't considered serious.

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