Vikings Happy With Long Camp

The Vikings' new additions are getting to know the team's existing players as the team has its most extensive developmental camp in team history.

In the days of Bud Grant, the Vikings would end their seasons in the playoffs and not see each other again until training camp opened -- usually about a week before the first preseason game.

The times have clearly changed and the Vikings are in the middle of what will be the most exhaustive camp session in team history. The Vikings will close out a developmental camp tomorrow, have a full minicamp at the end of next week and another developmental camp the following week -- a prospect that has the players excited about the 2002 season.

"This is actually like a three-week training camp," center Matt Birk told VU. "It's a great chance for all of us who have been here already to get to know the new players and for everyone to get on the same page as to what we're looking to do."

Coach Mike Tice said the team is doing as much in the way of mini-camps as the NFL allows and, while no helmets and pads are being worn this week, they will next week -- and Tice promises some big hitting as players fight for starting positions.

"This is going to be a fun time for all of us," Tice said. "We're looking to get the best team we can on the field and part of that will be decided by what we see during the next couple of weeks."

* The Vikings had a meeting with WR Derrick Alexander last week and are prepared to move quickly to get him signed when he is released -- as early as Saturday.
* The Vikes may not be alone. Published reports out of K.C. have the Chargers, Bucs and Falcons expressing an interest in Alexander.
* VU has been told that the Vikings are currently the third choice for the L.A. expansion effort, behind San Diego and Arizona. The main reason for those two being in front? Much easier potential to get out of a lease, which has many prospective lawsuits attached to it from the Vikings' side of things. The NFL is concerned about how much it could cost to have the Vikings break their lease with a document in place signed by the NFL guaranteeing pro football in Minnesota.
* One guy making an impression in the mini-camp is special teams coach Jay Hayes. He's looking at aggression as part of his philosophy. Under Gary Zauner, the Vikings were conservative at best -- never attempting a fake field goal or punt during the Dennis Green era. That tentativeness carried through -- the Vikings have not blocked a punt since 1989.
* Randy Moss returned to practice Wednesday and showed no ill-effects from an ankle injury sustained Tuesday.
* While the Vikings have emerged largely injury-free from their camps, the same isn't true around the league. Wednesday alone, four players were lost for the season with injuries, including former All-Pro guard Dave Sczott of the Jets.

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