Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress addressed a number of team-specific topics Friday at the Combine, including Brian Williams, Sam Cowart, Koren Robinson and others.
Vikings coach Brad Childress
fielded about 30 minutes of questions Friday at the Combine in Indianapolis and gave a little insight on some decisions the team has already made and a glimpse into the future.
The move that had media members puzzled Thursday was the transition tag being applied to cornerback Brian Williams
. It means Williams will be the third cornerback on the team who is making more than $4 million a year, but it doesn't mean Williams is necessarily the third cornerback on the depth chart.
"I envision there being a very good open competition and the best guys getting on the football field. Anytime you've got competition at positions, you've got something," Childress said. "When you've got guys that know they've got it tied up, it's not as good. I'm hoping there's a competition."
Childress said he spoke with Williams' agent, Jordan Feagan, concerning the unhappiness Feagan expressed with Williams being stuck with the transition tag and wanting to play elsewhere.
"(Brian is) a good person and a good football player and that's our business right now. We have the ability to do that. Guys don't get to pick and choose where they get a chance to go. We'll establish a relationship, and it's a new staff, a new beginning to him. So that's what I tried to communicate to his agent." Childress said.
Since receiving the tag, there has been speculation about Williams or Antoine Winfield
moving to safety, but Childress seemed to debunk that line of thinking. Childress said Williams has a big enough body to play safety but that his talents were at cornerback. "He's a big man and there are bigger receivers in the NFC North. He fits being able to defense those guys," he said.
Mewelde Moore has flashed his talent as a running back in the two seasons he has been with the Vikings, averaging 4.3 yards per carry last year and 4.7 for his young NFL career. However, durability has been a question, and some wonder if he can physically handle being a featured running back that receives 20 carries a game.
"Mewelde has done some good things," Childress said. "How many carries? We've done it a couple of different ways—we could split them up (or) if there is somebody that comes to us that get 20 to 25 carries, that's a way to go as well."
Childress said suspended Vikings running back Onterrio Smith is eligible to be reinstated on May 1, but he isn't allowed to communicate with him until then.
Childress said teams have not called him for advice on Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens, who was part of a rift in Philadelphia last season. Owens has received permission to talk to other teams regarding a trade. When asked if the Vikings were out of the running for Owens, Childress said he likes the corps of receivers he has.
Koren Robinson, who would be a free agent on March 3 if the Vikings don't re-sign him, visited with the Vikings for a day last week. "It's hard not to like him," Childress said of that meeting.
If the Vikings aren't able to sign him before March 3, they have the option to match any offers he receives.
Childress said he has not personally talked with safety Corey Chavous about returning.
"I don't feel any urgency to run and fill that safety position," he said. "I know (defensive coordinator) Mike Tomlin does, but, again, we just want to see how things go. (Chavous) is a good football player and a smart football player."
The recovery of center Matt Birk from hip surgery continues. Childress sees Birk in the equipment room with a cup of coffee every day, but he joked that he wasn't sure if Birk worked in the equipment room or actually worked out. "I always kid him about that, too. I very seldom see him with a sweat, but I always see him sitting down with a cup of coffee. I'm waiting for him to have a Marlboro in his hand," Childress quipped.
Childress on linebacker Sam Cowart: "Sam did a great job for the Vikings last year, evaluating him. He's an old guy; he's salty. He knows that defense and I know Mike (Tomlin) has visited with him as well. We know what he can do. We're looking for what else is out there as well, both in free agency and the draft."
A number of veteran players came out in public support of quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who has reportedly been on the trade market. Childress' reaction to those players' statements: "It's not a mind control business. Players have opinions as well, and in a lot of instances they're going to state those opinions. Daunte is a good football player … and you don't want to lose good players. He's got a long way to come back from this injury."
What can the Vikings get with the 17th pick in the NFL draft? Historically, some have gotten treasure and others trash, according to the research Childress did on the 17th pick. "There are just so many things that can trickle down to you there," he said. "Some of them have been good picks and been in the league for a while and some of them haven't. I know when you get to that spot, you want three or four guys that you have in-hand that will be options there. You can't shop one guy when you're picking 17th."
The Vikings were reportedly $22 million under the salary cap on Friday, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll spend it all this year. "We're in good shape cap-wise. That doesn't mean we need to spend all that. They've done a great job in terms of managing the cap," Childress said. "The big thing is establishing a value, which we've done with the guys out there at all those positions."
The Vikings were preparing for a full slate of player interviews from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday.
During the Detroit Lions saga of trying to lure Mike Martz to be their offensive coordinator, the team was also interested in getting Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore. The Lions were unable to get Indianapolis to release Moore, a former assistant in Minnesota and Detroit.