Mike Tice is just what the doctor ordered in Minnesota, or that is the hope of owner Red McCombs.
Privately, McCombs raves about the first-time head coach and has noticed the change in attitude with the players, sources tell The Insiders.
"There has been a lot less screwing around in the mini-camps, players have been treated on the same level and Tice is a vocal leader that really will tear into a player," the source said. "Not that (Denny) Green wouldn't do that, it was just certain players could do what they wanted, the respect factor was on the way out the door under Green."
The question of who is running the show and how serious this organization has become was evident this past week when dealing with free agent wide receiver Derrick Alexander.
Alexander was courted by the Vikings prior to his official release from the Kansas City Chiefs on June 3. Making a couple visits to the Twin Cities, working out for the team and taking a physical, Alexander had made his intentions known that he wanted to play in Minnesota.
With these intentions known and the Vikings an obvious match, Alexander proceeded to visit with the New England Patriots and talk with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
These actions not sitting well with Tice, the coach openly played a little cat and mouse game with Alexander and his representatives. Basically informing the media that he expected Alexander to be signed by Friday so he could participate in the mini-camp this weekend.
A league source informs The Insiders that Alexander and his representatives received the message loud and clear. Also, the Vikings were the best option, financially and on the field.
"Alexander could have played for numerous teams. Many teams showed an interest, but Minnesota is where he wanted to play," the source said. "Ultimately he wanted to go to a team that could win now and his talents utilized."
"Lets not kid anybody, the Vikings' contract offer (three years, $5.15 million, $1.17 million signing bonus) was probably as good of a deal as he would get. The contract played into the significance of his decision, as New England informed Alexander's representatives that they could barely offer the veteran minimum and Tampa Bay was focusing on Keenan McCardell."
Landing Alexander was a priority for the team, questionable at wide receiver behind Randy Moss. The team feels that a huge void has been filled.
The opportunity to upgrade the linebacker positions has not been as fruitful for the Vikings.
In the days leading up to the June 3 player cuts, there was an interest in middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson. Nickerson, a veteran of wars in the trenches with the Tampa Bay Bucs and Jacksonville Jaguars was thought to be a player that could step in and help revive the Vikings defense.
This one at this time does not appear to be likely. The Vikings would not commit to Nickerson that he would be their starting middle linebacker, an assurance that Nickerson requires.