Is Chester Taylor-Made?

Concerns have begun to surface about the commitment running back Chester Taylor has to being the featured back in the Vikings backfield, with some theorizing that the big money Taylor earned has diminished some of his drive to be his best.

In the weeks leading up to free agency, there was talk that the Vikings might make the biggest splash of all by going after All Pro running backs Shaun Alexander or Edgerrin James. As it turned out, the Seahawks took Alexander out of the equation with a long-term deal and the Vikings weren't interested in adding James due to his age and the amount of mileage on his body through a strong NFL career.

Instead the Vikings went after career backup Chester Taylor, who seemed to be more a victim of circumstance than lack of ability. Playing behind Jamal Lewis, who ran for more than 2,000 yards in a single season when Taylor first arrived with the Ravens, Taylor seemed mired in the background. Last year, however, when both players got a chance to run the ball, it was clear that Taylor was hitting the hole faster and looked considerably better than Lewis. In the end, the Ravens inkled that they would like to sign-and-trade Lewis to the Vikings. The Vikes balked and ended up signing Taylor.

The rub now seems to be that there are rumblings that Taylor has not taken his offseason workout habits too seriously. He showed up to minicamps overweight and there have been some internal griping that he doesn't have the greatest work ethic.

The organization believes his motivation should be the four-year, $14.1 million payday he received from the Vikings, which includes $5.6 million in guaranteed money.

While this might raise a red flag, the Vikings are said to have told Taylor to be ready to give his all during training camp and that a full-time starting job hasn't been locked up. With players like Mewelde Moore and Ciatrick Fason not looking to be part-time situational players, it would appear Taylor has been put on notice -- get in shape and stay in shape or your starting job may be on the line before it ever began.

* Of the Vikings' 2006 salary cap, more than $31 million was spent on free agents this year.
* George Toma, the grass guru who has been hired by several teams to improve their turf, has received rave reviews for his work on the practice field at Winter Park.
* The Cardinals are looking to take advantage of the latest salary cap rage -- using the extra money from the new CBA to sign veteran players to extensions. One of the players being mentioned as a candidate for extension is former Vikings D-back Robert Griffith, who has found his career reborn under Dennis Green.

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