Bates Still Leads Battle

D'Wayne Bates today said he is looking for every advantage he can get in winning a starting spot opposite Randy Moss, and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan says it's an ongoing battle.

The battle at wide receiver — and the right to play opposite of Randy Moss — has been one of the most interesting so far at the Minnesota Vikings training camp.

D'Wayne Bates and Derrick Alexander are vying for the split end position, with Bates holding a slight edge because he signed in April and Alexander didn't join the team until June.

"D'Wayne's ahead right now because he's been here for all the minicamps and developmental camps," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said Tuesday. "That's a battle that's ongoing, but D'Wayne has been real consistent."

Coach Mike Tice has said that the base offensive formation will be two receivers, two tight ends and one running back, and, as of now, Bates is one of the receivers. When the team has used a three-receiver set, Bates has moved to Moss' side, with Alexander alone. Bates has lined up most often in the slot, although Linehan said Moss could be moved to the slot, and eventually Alexander will also be used in the slot.

"I'm always watching Randy or Derrick, trying to pick up the little things that can make me better," Bates said. "I want to be a starter, and I'm going to do everything I can to win that job. But we'll all be on the field a lot."

Bates, who spent his first three professional season with Chicago, has just 15 career catches. But when he became a free agent, he looked at the potential for playing time and productivity with the Vikings. Through the first few days of training camp, he's made several nice catches, most of them in the middle of the field.

"I've got the speed to get down the field, and I can use my 215 pounds to get open in the middle," Bates said. "Whatever route they want me to run, I'll do it. When you get an opportunity, you have to take advantage of it."

* Middle linebacker Henri Crockett (hamstring) took part in more contact drills Tuesday and may be ready for Friday's practices with Kansas City. Tackle Lewis Kelly, running back James Wofford, kicker Doug Brien, tight end Hunter Goodwin and defensive lineman Willie Howard each missed at least part of the practice because of injuries.

* Tuesday's morning practice ended with a long sideline pass from Todd Bouman to Cedric James.

* Rookie Nick Murphy boomed the longest punt of Tuesday's practice, but veteran Kyle Richardson was by far the most consistent.

* The Vikings added former Iowa State offensive lineman Lorenzo White to the team Tuesday. Tice said he tried to sign former Viking Jay Humphrey, who had already signed with Carolina.

* Tice said he was impressed by rookie running back Jeremy Allen in the short-yardage and goal-line drills. Allen is a 241-pounder who played last season at Iowa.

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