Practice Runs Short And Sweet

After a long, hot week of two-a-day practices, head coach Mike Tice scaled back Saturday before the players' day off Sunday. Receiver Travis Taylor commented on his scrimmage performance, and the team is getting a number of players coming back from injuries.

After seven straight two-a-day practices, Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice gave his players some time off Saturday, limiting the morning practice, scheduled for an hour and 10 minutes, to just 30 minutes.

"They're pooped, I'm pooped," Tice said. "It's been a long week."

Tice also said he would cut the two-hour afternoon practice to an hour and 15 minutes. The players are off on Sunday.

Tice was pleased with the way his team responded to Friday's practices, both in full pads, and each lasting at least two hours.

Taylor impresses

Travis Taylor was the most impressive receiver at Friday's intrasquad scrimmage, catching seven passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns, including the scrimmage winner on the final play of the game.

"I'm getting a good feel for the offense," he said. "This offense is so wide-open, you never know what's going to happen or who's going to get the ball. You have to be ready."

Tice said he likes Taylor's versatility, and the free agent from Baltimore is in a good battle with Marcus Robinson to play opposite of Nate Burleson in two-receiver sets.

"He's caught about every ball but one that's been thrown at him," Tice said. "He's never going to run by many people, but he's strong and can't be pressed (at the line of scrimmage)."

It's OK to be gone

Tice said that quarterback Daunte Culpepper, running back Michael Bennett and offensive lineman Shannon Snell were excused from both practices Saturday. Tice said that Culpepper and Bennett would return to Mankato by the 6:30 p.m. deadline Sunday, but Snell might not be back until Monday.

Happy returns

Tice said that cornerback Fred Smoot would be taken off the physically-unable-to-perform list on Monday and join the team for practice. Smoot has been bothered by a strained neck and has worked out on adjacent practice fields with a trainer.

Center Matt Birk is expected to return to practice the following Monday. Birk has been rehabbing his hip following offseason surgery. Tice even pronounced himself healthy after a week of camp. Tice had offseason surgery on his ankle.

"My ankle just blows up when I do two-a-day walks," he said.

Receiver Kelly Campbell (quad), cornerback Ken Irvin (shoulder) and tight end Richard Angulo (shoulder) did not participate in the morning practice.

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