What Tice Likes

Mike Tice knows NFL football players. He was one and now is coaching them. Last week he outlined the qualities he looks for in players that will fit his philosphy and style.

Anybody who followed the Vikings' 2002 draft closely knows that they got bigger all over. From massive left tackle Bryant McKinnie to nearly every one of their defensive draft picks following McKinnie, the Vikings seemed to have the "get bigger" theme fall in line with their desire of being more aggressive.

Second-round pick Raonall Smith is big and fast. Third-round pick Willie Offord, a strong safety for the Vikings, played some linebacker in college and looks to be a bigger version of Robert Griffith. Sixth-round pick Nick Rogers played some defensive line in college and will work at linebacker for the Vikings.

Yes, the Vikings defense did get bigger a month ago, so it came as somewhat of a surprise when Vikings coach Mike Tice last week talked about what he looks for in a football player and size didn't make his top five.

Tice spoke to two rotary groups in Twin Cities suburbs and to Imation employees during an achievement awards presentation Thursday. While he fielded questions, he also listed his five evaluation keys for players.

First was intelligence. He got that with a few of his draft picks who scored high on the Wonderlic test and got it with some of his free agents, who impressed Tice at dinner meetings.

Second was lateral speed. That follows the off-season talk about the defensive line needing to get better in stringing out plays along the line of scrimmage and keeping their spacing.

Third was straight-line speed. The Vikings didn't get any Randy Mosses or Michael Bennetts with their picks this year, but some of their draft picks did come with impressive size-speed ratios.

Fourth was work ethic. From a boss like Tice, who rewards effort with playing time, the importance he placed on this characteristic should come as no surprise.

And neither should Tice's fifth and final listing of toughness. Few coaches come across as strong as Tice for being hard-nosed and carrying a football player's mentality into being a football coach.

* We are in the final day of Cris Carter's deadline for NFL teams to make him an offer. Carter said he will make a decision tomorrow on his football future, which will be playing if he gets an offer he likes or else likely becoming part of HBO's "Inside the NFL" TV show.
* On the day the Carter retirement talk broke, Tice said it was his "opinion" that Carter would end up on HBO.
* Tice told the Imation group that when the team first started to entertain free agents in February it took the organization some time to get a smooth procedure on how to handle the details of getting the players in, working them out and getting them on their way. That may also speak to the control that former head coach-general manager Dennis Green had in dealing with personnel matters.
* Vikings running back Michael Bennett has been invited to compete in Olympic sprinter Maurice Green's track meet in five weeks.
* Ex-Vikings linebacker Kivuusama Mays is in training camp with the Montreal Alouettes (CFL). A fourth-round pick by the Vikings in 1998, Mays was released by the team during the 1999 season and spent some time with the Packers and Chicago Enforcers (XFL) before landing north of the border.

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