With the clock ticking toward the Vikings' 2002 training camp, some behind-the-scenes action has been taking place.
Recently rebuffed by defensive linemen Jim Flanigan and Marco Coleman, the Vikings believe that they have caught lightning in a bottle with the addition of Cedric Killings.
Killings, most recent of the Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns, will have an opportunity to compete for a position along the interior defensive line in Minnesota. A league source tells this column that the Vikings wasted no time in securing the services of Killings.
"Cedric (Killings) had the opportunity to go to a few teams, but was partial to the potential of competing for a starting position in Minnesota," the source said. "Another factor in his decision is that the coaching staff has told him that they want to let him play aggressively, or to penetrate and rush the quarterback.
"Needless to say, the Vikings showed a great deal of interest in Cedric and he wanted to play where he was wanted and just not to be another body."
Wanting to add a veteran presence that can still play the game at a high level, the Vikings were in serious talks with representatives for free agent defensive end Marco Coleman up until he decided to sign a contract last week with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Rumors circulated that the Vikings had offered Coleman a contract well above the three-year 4.5-million dollar deal that he signed with Jacksonville.
A league source informs The Insiders that while the Vikings did offer Coleman a contract, which is believed to be in the area of a two-year, $2 million deal with incentives that could have brought the potential dollar value into the $3.25 million area over the duration. The determining factor in the Coleman decision is that "reachable incentives" loaded into the offer from Jacksonville made the Coleman decision relatively easy. Also, Coleman is under the impression that Jacksonville is closer to winning than Minnesota and he is expected to start at the defensive left end position
Heading into the 2002 NFL draft and the free agency signing period, the Vikings had made upgrading the wide receiver position a priority. Derrick Alexander and D'Wayne Bates, both signed in free agency, will add depth, experience and, in the case of Alexander, a big-play threat opposite Randy Moss.
One player that hasn't been receiving much attention but has been impressing the coaching staff is 2002 draftee Kelly Campbell from Georgia Tech, a team source tells The Insiders.
"We believed that Campbell was a little small, but plays larger that he showed during his last season at Georgia Tech. His senior year at Tech was average, which played out well for us," the source said. "He runs better than he shows on film, he studies hard and has done everything we have asked and more."
"There is absolutely no reason to believe at this time that he can't or won't make this team. He will be given every opportunity to compete. If he continues to do what he has been doing, he has a chance to be a slot type receiver here."