Notebook: Quote Clearing

The Vikings' players packed up their lockers last week and left for some time off, leaving time to review their statements and expectations for the future.

Clearly, 2006 was a season of disappointment and frustration for the Vikings, who spent time trying to adjust to many new aspects.

Some players expect plenty of changes while other aren't as sure of the makeup of the team in 2007.

"The first part of the offseason and going into next season is going to be what pieces we keep, what pieces we discard, so that'll be the first thing to see," said safety Dwight Smith. "Then once OTAs (developmental camps and minicamps) and stuff start we can see how the new pieces look, so it's going to be interesting. The thing about this NFL, the new NFL, it's shown that this locker room won't be the same. It'll be interesting to see who's not here and who isn't."

The Vikings already contractually locked up some starting talent for the future before the season ended, including left tackle Bryant McKinnie, defensive tackle Kevin Williams, linebacker E.J. Henderson and fullback Jeff Dugan.

The top two players scheduled for free agency that remained unsigned are wide receiver Travis Taylor and linebacker Napoleon Harris.

Smith said he doesn't expect a lot of turnover in the locker room, but he acknowledged the two key players who could become free agents in March.

"I don't believe we need as much as a typical team. It's tough when you have free agent guys like Travis Taylor, Napoleon Harris, guys who are going to maybe make some dollars from the free agent market. It's hard to keep them type guys, but they're key parts of the team," Smith said. "It's interesting, if we lose Napo, if we lose T.T., how we fill that void? That's what will be the most interesting."

Cornerback Antoine Winfield seemed conflicted about how much needs to be added to the team.

"We're not that far away. We just couldn't catch that many breaks during the season. We lost a few games real close – Chicago and San Fran, if we would have won those games we would have been in the playoffs," said Winfield, who was then asked if he sensed a lot of turnover coming.

"It could be. Everywhere I've been, it happens like that. So many new players come in. ... There's free agents. Some guys that probably don't fit his system, so I'm sure there will be changes."

One of those changes could be at linebacker. If the Vikings don't re-sign Harris, first-round draft pick Chad Greenway could step into a starting role after missing the entire 2006 season with a torn ACL.

The starting quarterback will also be new in 2007 – either 2006 rookie Tarvaris Jackson or Brooks Bollinger, according to head coach Brad Childress.

For some players, all that is needed is another season under the new coaching staff to familiarize themselves even more with the schemes that were implemented.

"We'll have a year under the system and (know) what we're trying to do as a team. Guys will be a lot more familiar with what we're trying to get done, so that should help out," said safety Darren Sharper. "It won't be the learning curve that it was this year. I think that we're just going to have to find a way to be more consistent. That's going to have to be something that we're going to have to address, do that in the offseason and carry that into the season. Of course, everybody knows, add more playmakers. That's something I know our personnel guys, Coach Childress are going to definitely look into. That's something every team is going to look into this offseason. We're going to be one of those teams."

With the seventh pick in the NFL draft this year, the Vikings could find a playmaker at wide receiver in that position. The top candidates are Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson, USC's Dwayne Jarrett and Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr.

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