Tice Avoids Talks about His Future

Is Mike Tice's job safe for another year? He doesn't want to talk about it, and it's probably still too early to tell.

The Vikings' 2-5 start caused plenty of speculation that coach Mike Tice would be lucky to make it through the season. But with the Vikings having reeled off five consecutive victories and jumping back into the playoff race, Tice's job might be safe not only for this season but also beyond.

New owner Zygi Wilf will be the one making that decision, and so far he hasn't tipped his hand. Tice, in the final year of his contract, said Thursday he isn't worried about an extension.

"I don't want to talk about that," he said. "I have said all along that I know how to coach. I really don't care what a commentary guy says about whether I can coach or not. I will have a job in this league whether it is this one or another one. Whether it is this job, a line job or a special teams job. I will have a job.

"I enjoy teaching. I don't worry about that. I never have and I never will. Maybe I'll coach with Kim Nelson over at Edina (High School) next year and help coach my son in that spread offense."

Veteran middle linebacker Sam Cowart feels Tice has earned a new contract with what he has been able to do with a team that not only looked dysfunctional on the field but also faced the off-the-field allegations of the "Love Boat" cruise.

"I think so," Cowart said. "I heard some things that he may be up for Coach of the Year depending on how this thing (turns out) towards the end.

"But from where we were headed and what was being said and what was going on, to turn it around like we have, that's a testimony to him and his coaching staff. They did a good job still believing they made the right choice in training camp with the right players and stuck with us."

NOTES

  • CB Fred Smoot will return in the Vikings' nickel and dime packages Sunday against St. Louis after missing the past four games because of a fractured right collarbone. Smoot, who has been wearing a harness to protect the shoulder in practice, eventually is expected to slide back into his starting role, which is currently being held by Brian Williams.

  • CBs Ralph Brown and Dovonte Edwards are battling to play in the Vikings' dime defense. Coach Mike Tice alternated the two in practice Wednesday and Thursday and will make a decision Friday on which player will hold that job against the Rams.

  • DT Kevin Williams hasn't practiced this week because of a sprained right knee and is expected to miss his second game Sunday. The Vikings are hoping Williams can return Dec. 18 against Pittsburgh. Rookie C.J. Mosley will get the start against St. Louis.

  • Rookie WR Troy Williamson will be active Sunday after being a healthy scratch for two consecutive games. Minnesota is expected to dress five receivers.

  • RB Mewelde Moore was added to the injury report as probable Thursday because of a right quadriceps contusion. Moore, who was unable to finish practice, also is battling a sprained ankle.

  • RB Michael Bennett, who sprained his ankle after slipping on the ice Sunday, was able to practice for a second consecutive day Thursday and appears ready to go.

  • Rookie CB Laroni Gallishaw, who suffered a sprained right ankle last Sunday at Detroit, was placed on injured reserve.

  • Rookie CB Ukee Dozier was promoted from the practice squad to replace CB Laroni Gallishaw (ankle).

  • LB Heath Farwell (knee) remains questionable on the injury report.

  • Rookie Marvin Ward, a cornerback and safety from Northwestern, was signed to the practice squad to replace CB Ukee Dozier. Ward spent time with Buffalo and Chicago in training camp.




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