Rookies to Get First Look

The Vikings rookie class will be on display this weekend, as they try to make their first impression on both teammates and the coaching staff.

Last year as the Vikings went to minicamp, much of the talk was about the veteran free agents that had been signed in the offseason. This year, the buzz is about the rookies that the Vikings are convinced are the key to their future.

The focus is likely going to center on linebacker Chad Greenway, who is expected to earn a starting outside linebacker spot and Cedric Griffin, who is vying for the nickel cornerback position. But perhaps the most attention will be on quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who will get his first chance to impress his new teammates the same way he impressed the coaching and scouting staffs months earlier.

Jackson has been the subject of debate since the Vikings made a him a surprise selection with the last pick of the second round of last month's draft – trading both of their third-round picks to move up to grab him, despite being viewed by many as a fourth-round pick. He has received plenty of recent support, including a glowing recommendation from Grambling coach Doug Williams.

Is Jackson a long-term project? Unless Brad Johnson finds a fountain of youth, he likely can't afford to be. While 2006 is expected to be a learning-curve season, don't be surprised if Jackson is going to be pushing to start next year when training camp begins. For him and the other rookies, their Vikings careers officially begin tomorrow.

* The Lions have worked out a trade with the Dolphins to send Joey Harrington south, which is sad news for Vikings fans since Harrington had so many awful games against the Vikings.
* The Texans are now involved in talks with the Saints to trade for Michael Bennett, who signed a free agent deal with the Saints in March. But, when New Orleans drafted Reggie Bush, Bennett became almost immediate trade bait. The team has also had talks with the Dolphins about a potential trade.
* Head coach Brad Childress reiterated Thursday that he has no plans to bring in a veteran quarterback to back up Brad Johnson and that the team is willing to go with the players they have at the position.
* Look for E.J. Henderson to move inside to middle linebacker at training camp – vacating his weakside position to rookie Chad Greenway. Henderson played middle linebacker at Maryland, but was pushed outside last year when the team signed Sam Cowart.

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