Jobs On the Line Tonight

About a dozen players (or more) who are in uniform tonight won't be when the team opens the regular season against Chicago -- making tonight's game critical to some players' futures.

Mike Tice has said that no position on his team won't be evaluated and open for competition, although many spots on the final 53-man roster are already set.

But as the Vikings prepare for the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight, there is legitimate reason for some players to be concerned. Not only do the Vikings have to trim a dozen players to get to the league-mandated limit of 65, VU has heard the team will be watching the waiver wire closely looking for other casualties as potential replacement players. Bottom line -- a lot of players have their Vikings future on the line tonight.

One interesting scenario to watch will be the return of special teams coach Jay Hayes to Pittsburgh. After a couple of special teams mistakes cost the Steelers in the AFC title game, Hayes became the sacrificial lamb and wasn't happy about it.

Also involved in the special teams drama is kicker Doug Brien. If he doesn't have a big night, he could easily be sent packing. To date, Brien has made just 1-of-5 field goals and Tice has lost his patience. While some of this weekend's cuts are expected, Brien could be one of the surprises if he continues to struggle.

* Kansas City agreed to terms with DT Ryan Sims Wednesday, including a two-tiered signing bonus of $9.75 million -- $3 million this year and $6.75 million next spring.
* With Sims signed, it is expected to open up communication between the Vikings and Bryant McKinnie, whose holdout is in its 34th day. No talks were scheduled as of Wednesday before Sims signed.
* Despite the signing of Sims, the NFL Players Association has not dropped its investigation of collusion allegations between the Chiefs and the Vikings over the money being offered to Sims and McKinnie.

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