Chemistry Will Be Key to 2002

Coach Mike Tice has spent much of the time during the team's developmental camps and mini-camp talking about chemistry. If that means mixing elements together in hopes of getting something good, he's right.

It took mini-camp and the attention it received last weekend for many observers of the Vikings to see just how different things are going to be for the Vikings in 2002. As the team and its fans prepare for the annual bashing the Vikings will get from national preseason publications -- most will likely pick the Vikings a distant third in the NFC North, if not last -- they may be in for a surprise.

Mike Tice has preached chemistry, but the number of changes and new looks will be huge. Aside from quarterback, just about every position will be different this year. Consider the following:

RUNNING BACK -- The team will go with a one-back offense this year, putting more pressure on Michael Bennett to become a game-breaker.

OFFENSIVE LINE -- Bryant McKinnie gives the Vikings a legitimate left tackle, something that was missing last year and Tice, a former offensive line coach, has promised a shakeup if the expected competition at a couple of key OL spots materializes.

TIGHT END -- Jim Kleinsasser moves to TE and, along with Byron Chamberlain, will be an impressive 1-2 punch. Add the return of Hunter Goodwin and Johnny McWilliams and the potential signing of O.J. Santiago and this position will be completely overhauled.

WIDE RECEIVER -- Gone are Cris Carter and Jake Reed. In are Derrick Alexander, D'Wayne Bates and Sean Dawkins. Look for plenty of new looks here.

DEFENSIVE LINE -- Only Chris Hovan looks to be back as a starter as the Vikings may keep up to five new DL.

LINEBACKER -- Ed McDaniel and Kailee Wong are gone and the team will need to find depth to replace them and keep healthy, quick bodies on the field.

SECONDARY -- The team will miss Robert Griffith and Dale Carter, but hope Ronnie Bradford and Corey Chavous can spark a young, hungry secondary that will let aggression be its calling card.

SPECIAL TEAMS -- Gary Anderson and Mitch Berger are gone, replaced by Doug Brien and Kyle Richardson. Some believe that, despite the former Pro Bowl status of both Anderson and Berger, the Vikings may be better at both spots this year.

If chemistry means mixing together new elements, the Vikings will surely have that. The question now to be answered is will those ingredients mix in such a way to build a successful product?

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