Grading Three At MLB

It's hard to put too much into initial practices, but with all the changes the Vikings have made, middle linebacker remains up in the air.

The biggest offseason priority, many believed as the Vikings began free agency in March, was at linebacker. Two-and-a-half months later, the team has added Ben Leber via free agency and used its first-round draft pick on Chad Greenway. Yet, middle linebacker remains a question mark.

With one practice remaining in the team's second minicamp, the Vikings are no closer to determining who will be the starting middle linebacker than they were at the advent of free agency -- when it was clear that incumbent Sam Cowart wasn't going to be coming back.

During the first two days of minicamp, Napoleon Harris, aquired in the Randy Moss trade last year, was taking most of the snaps with the first-team defense. But the coaching staff insists the battle is wide open, with both E.J. Henderson and Dontarrious Thomas having a legitimate shot at winning the starting job.

With the importance of the middle linebacker position to a defense -- much less a Tampa 2 system -- not having a clear-cut starter at the position is something to be concerned about. However, the Vikings remain confident that the trio they have in place can more than get the job done. Only time will tell if that assessment is accurate or not.

* Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson continued to make a positive impression at minicamp Sunday. He completed a pair of long passes and shows excellent zip on his passes -- which was his selling point to the Vikings brass when the coaching staff went down for a private pre-draft workout.
* Fullback Joey Goodspeed (knee) and cornerback Marvin Ward (hamstring) both sat out Sunday's practices with injuries.

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