Saying that the "culture" of the way players conduct themselves is going to change, Vikings head coach Brad Childress returned to practice in preparation for Thursday's preseason finale against the Cowboys.
Childress was forced to field questions concerning the latest incident, safety Dwight Smith being found in a stairwell at a nightclub with a 24-year old woman -- both of whom were charged with indecent conduct.
"I met with Dwight yesterday, and throughout the offseason, with a number of different issues," Childress said Sunday. "I sit down and get across from those guys, and everyone is kind of different. But I sit down and make them accountable, and our team understands that. We talked about it this morning. Dwight talked to our team. He talked with me. They understand my disappointment and that we want to get things right. When you change a culture, just because you are here for six months or eight months, that culture does not change immediately. But that is certainly the goal, and we are not going to stop trying to get that right."
While Smith was still practicing with the first-team defense Sunday, Childress promised that discipline with be strong and failure to live up to the team's code of conduct will not be tolerated.
"I know that those guys want very desperately to be judged on the football field, and not off the football field," Childress said. "People make unfortunate decisions sometimes, and the message is that everyone is accountable in this culture, in this day and age, whether it's me or whoever it is."
No Vikings players would comment following practice. It is unclear whether a team mandate of silence was put in force or not.
* Childress did make a statement about the release of Koren Robinson Saturday, saying "I needed to do what I felt was right for the Minnesota Vikings as we start to choose those 53 guys (on the final roster). I feel like I'm picking the best 53 and at this point (Robinson was) not one of those guys."
* Ciatrick Fason returned to practice Sunday after suffering a shoulder injury in Friday's game.
* Mewelde Moore is expected to return to practice today but his role (if any) in Thursday's game with the Cowboys is still up in the air.
* Charles Gordon returned to practice for the first time in almost a month Sunday.
* The NFL is monitoring Tropical Storm Ernesto, which currently is bearing down on Cuba and could have an effect on this week's preseason game scheduled in Miami. As of this time, the league is taking a wait-and-see approach, but as the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is upon us, the league is taking all weather advisories seriously for the protection of both players and fans.
Smith Feels the Wrath
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