Special Teams Attention

Jay Hayes' special teams are getting special attention this week, as head coach Mike Tice reiterates his desire to have big plays in kicking situations win two games this season.

Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice is paying a lot of attention to special teams, holding an hour-long session with that group Wednesday for the third straight day.

"Special teams are a huge, huge part of success," Tice said. "We don't want to lose any games because of special teams, and we'd like to win two games (because of special teams)."

Tice said that special-teams meetings had been extended by 15 minutes each night and during full-team practices an extra five minutes has been added to focus on special teams.

Tice said he's been happy with his punt and kickoff coverage teams, in part because the team has a lot of young, aggressive players.

"I'm looking for hitters," he said. "I want to separate the hitters from those who don't want to hit. That will help us with some tough decisions down the road."

Kyle Richardson, a free agent who was with Baltimore last season, has been more consistent at punter than rookie Nick Murphy. At Wednesday's practice, Richardson booted a couple of long punts, while Murphy would hit a nice punt and shank the next.

Veteran Doug Brien has been more consistent on kickoffs, field goals and PAT kicks, although rookie Todd France has had some good moments, as well.

David Allen has been the top punt and kick returner, although Tice said he also wants to see rookie receivers Nick Davis and Kelly Campbell and second-year running back James Wofford return punts and kicks Saturday in the exhibition game with Cleveland at the Metrodome.

"[Allen] looks smooth, he looks comfortable with the ball in his hands," Tice said.

* The Vikings will hold a scrimmage tonight, consisting of 14 drives from various positions on the field. Tice said it will be a full-contact scrimmage, except on quarterbacks and punt returners.

* Tice said that receiver Derrick Alexander, who has missed much of training camp with a quadriceps strain, will not play Saturday. Rookie linebacker Max Yates (shoulder) and rookie cornerback Brian Williams (hamstring) also won't play. Tice said that veteran left guard Corbin Lacina is questionable for Saturday's game. Lacina has been bothered by a knee and ankle injury.

* Running back Moe Williams switched numbers Wednesday, going from 30 to 20. Williams, who was with the Vikings from 1996-2000 but was cut and played with Baltimore last season, wanted a number in the 20s when he was signed in the offseason, but one didn't come available until the Vikings cut cornerback Kenny Wright last week. Linebacker Isaac Keys also switched numbers Wednesday, going from 96 to 66.

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