It appears that with every practice he misses, the Minnesota Vikings are preparing for a season in which top draft choice Bryant McKinnie is not the starting left tackle.
On Tuesday, Tice said that he no longer considers McKinnie as a starter.
On Wednesday, Tice shuffled the offensive line some, even though negotiations with Bryant seem to be going better.
"Once the roster is full and everybody is here [we may make more moves]," Tice said. "The longer the holdout goes on, the more [we have to prepare]."
Third-year tackle Lewis Kelly, who has been injured, was working as the backup left tackle behind Everett Lindsay. Kelly has been slated as the starting right tackle, but Chris Liwienski has been starting there. When McKinnie shows up, and when he takes over the left tackle spot, Liwienski will likely be shifted to left guard, with Kelly at right tackle. Lindsay and Corbin Lacina, who is currently playing at left guard, are the primary backups.
Tice said that it is smarter to use Kelly as a backup at both tackle positions right now than move Liwienski back and forth from guard and tackle.
"You've got to play the hand you're dealt," Tice said.
* Free agent running back David Allen made several good plays in Wednesday's morning practice, including a couple of long runs and a juggling catch. Allen, who signed with San Francisco last season as an undrafted free agent from Kansas State, is the favorite to win the punt- and kick-returning job, but he's also getting a long look as the third-down back. Tice compared Allen, 5-foot-9 and 195 pounds, to David Palmer, who played with the Vikings from 1994-2000. "Allen gives us a different look on third down," Tice said.
* It's hardly news anymore, but Randy Moss continues to make a handful of acrobatic, exciting catches in every practice.
* There were a couple of brief skirmishes during Wednesday's practice, most notably between defensive end Kenny Mixon and tight end Hunter Goodwin. "They're a little feisty today," Tice said. "I like feisty."
* Receiver Derrick Alexander didn't participate in all of the passing drills. Tice said Alexander had a mild thigh strain. Tice said tight end Byron Chamberlain and linebacker Patrick Chukwurah also are battling slight muscle strains.
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