New Defensive Alignment?

The Vikings showed a defensive wrinkle in their practice Saturday at Mankato, using first-round rookie Chad Greenway in a 4-4-3 defensive alingment that puts four linebackers on the field and three defensive backs.

The Vikings are implementing a lot of changes this season, from the coaching staff to the players. But Saturday, they showed off one of their newest wrinkles -- a seldom-seen 4-4-3 defensive alignment.

As an opportunity to get rookie linebacker Chad Greenway on the field with the first-unit defense, the team ran several plays with that formation.

It is expected that the 4-4-3 would be used when teams are running a double jumbo formation with multiple tight ends in clear running formations. When asked if the set could be used extensively if successful, Brad Childress said it would only be situational, since four linebackers would be a liability against an offense using three or four wide receivers on given plays.

* Former Vikings head coaching great Bud Grant led a contingent of people representing Minnesota Momentum, a group promoting a new football stadium, to practice Saturday. Following one of the practice sessions, Grant and Childress chatted it up for a few minutes.
* Bryant McKinnie seemed to be joking Friday when he said he would be wearing a boxing glove to protect his fractured finger on his left hand. He wasn't. Saturday, he had all the looks of Conrad Dobler, wearing a ball-like boxing glove club covered with tape. Childress joked that, since holding is forbidden anyway, all linemen should have similar clubs.
* Koren Robinson has been taken off the kick return team ... at least for now. As a starting wide receiver, Childress doesn't want him returning kicks. At present, Mewelde Moore is the team's No. 1 kickoff and punt returner.
* Fred Smoot returned to practice, claiming the neck stinger suffered Friday in one-on-one drills was "no big deal." A similar neck injury forced Smoot to miss three preseason games last year.
* Mike Tice is doing commercials for a Ford dealership in Jacksonville.
* Disgruntled Raiders receiver Jerry Porter still isn't speaking to head coach Art Shell, but is expected to play Monday vs. the Vikings.

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