DL Promises to Be Better

Kenny Mixon is one of seven new defensive linemen the Vikings hope will be the difference between disappointment and victories in 2002, as the competition has already heated up for starting jobs and playing time.

When Mike Tice took over the Vikings, the defensive line was his biggest initial concern.

However, with the signing of Cedric Killings, not only do the Vikings have seven new defensive linemen, but still have the starting unit from last season returning.

At defensive end, the Vikings have added two potential new starters in Kenny Mixon and Lorenzo Bromell, while still keeping Talance Sawyer and Lance Johnstone -- last year's starters. The team also signed former Falcon Chuck Wiley, so competition should be fierce -- even though the team was hot after Marco Coleman before he signed with the Jags last week.

While the Vikings are concerned about the return of Willie Howard from major knee surgery, depth at defensive tackle is getting deeper all the time. With starters Chris Hovan and Fred Robbins returning, the team also has competition being provided by returners Winfield Garnett, Shawn Worthen and newcomers Darius Holland, Killings and rookie Chad Beasley.

When Tice took over, he promised competition at the defensive line positions. By adding so many new players, he's created that competition.

* The Vikings are still talking up the potential for a change on the offensive line -- whether sooner or later to be determined. Lewis Kelly has been impressive in NFL Europe and Tice believes he can step in as a starter at right tackle and move Chris Liwienski to his natural left guard spot. However, Liwienski played RT so well late last year, the decision may be delayed barring injuries at the guard spots.
* Former Vikings QB Billy Cockerham was released by the 49ers Friday.

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