The Matchup That Wasn't

The comparisons between Mike Williams and Bryant McKinnie were supposed to start today. Needless to say, they won't.

The NFL has always been big on player comparison, especially for those players of the same position taken in the same year.

Kevin Dyson has a hard time dodging questions about being the only wide receiver taken ahead of Randy Moss in the 1998 draft -- or more appropriately, the brain wizards with the Titans faced the question. How would the fortunes of the Colts and Chargers have changed in Indy had they taken Ryan Leaf instead of Peyton Manning? Or in the year of the QB in 1999 if Cincy had taken Daunte Culpepper instead of Akili Smith?

Another such comparison was expected this year when Mike Williams of Buffalo and Bryant McKinnie of the Vikings (at least draftwise) were taken as the first offensive tackles in the 2002 draft. Those comparisons were supposed to start today, the first meeting of the two teams that took the mammoth offensive tackles in the draft. Instead, as McKinnie's holdout hits its 51st day (the same length of 2001 client of agent Jim Steiner -- Cincy DE Justin Smith -- held out), that head-to-head comparison battle won't happen.

While Williams is signed and learning the system at right tackle, the Vikings still wait for McKinnie to sign, which is looking less likely all the time. Barring a change of heart, the Vikings won't even keep the same offer of a $8.1 million signing bonus, about $1 million less than Roy Williams -- taken a pick after McKinnie's slot by Dallas. The reason is that the Vikings see decreasing value as his holdout continues.

McKinnie is the last unsigned first-round pick and the talk around Winter Park late this week centered on the option of the Vikings trading his rights to another team. If the Vikings don't sign McKinnie by Week 10, he can't play this season, but the team would still retain his rights until the 2003 draft. At that point, he could return to the draft pool. However, after March 1, the Vikings could trade his rights to another team -- likely to one willing to pay him the kind of money his agents believe he deserves.

Short of that, the disappointment continues, especially the only chance in the next four years for the fans of the Vikings and Bills to see the two best offensive tackles from the Class of '02 meet in the same game.

* D'Wayne Bates was added to the injury report after sustaining a foot injury in practice. However, he is listed as probable.
* Whether coincidence or not, Bates, who was supposed to return punts with the absence of Nick Davis (hamstring), may not have to worry about it. Davis practiced late this week and, while still a game-time decision, may not be deactivated before gametime after all.
* Byron Chamberlain is expected to be one of today's deactivated players.
* Since Randy Moss joined the Vikings, the team is 27-9 at the Metrodome.
* From the misleading stat department comes this: The Vikings are 8-3 in their last 11 home openers, but the three losses have come in the last five years.
* Drew Bledsoe needs 72 passing yards to join the 30,000-yard club in his 126th NFL game. When he gets it, he will tie Brett Favre as the third-fastest player in NFL history to reach that milestone.
* Michael Bennett recently made a comment that all of the 1,000-yard rushers in the NFL came from teams with 9-7 records or better. Bennett must not look at the stat sheets. Of the 14 rushers to top 1,000 yards last season, six of them were on teams with records of 8-8 or worse and the league's leading rusher Priest Holmes played for a team that went 6-10.

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