For 14 games last season, wide receiver Martin Nance was just another name on the Minnesota Vikings' practice squad. Before the 15th game, he was promoted to the 53-man roster but was still part of the eight players who were made game-day deactives.
Then, on the final weekend of play for the 2006 regular season, Martin Nance got his chance. Nance played extensively against St. Louis and produced four catches for 33 yards. A month before the Vikings' draft, head coach Brad Childress was injecting Nance's name into conversations about the wide receivers.
"The guy that played the last game, Martin Nance, looks like he's had a very good offseason before the offseason program even started. Another guy that came back in tremendous shape is Maurice Mann, who was taken off Seattle's practice squad," Childress said at the owners meetings in late March.
That was before the NFL draft, when the Vikings added three more receivers to their roster. They currently have 13 on their roster, an unlucky number for about seven of them who are unlikely to make the final squad in September.
At least two of the Vikings' drafted wide receivers, second-round pick Sidney Rice and fifth-rounder Aundrae Allison, should be expected to make the roster, along with veteran Bobby Wade. It's probably too early to give up on 2005 first-round draft pick Troy Williamson, who has struggled to consistently catch the ball but had been attending a Nike facility in Oregon to help with his vision. That's four.
Then there is a pile of veterans, like Billy McMullen, Cortez Hankton and Randy Hymes, and youngsters, like Todd Lowber, Chandler Williams, Jason Carter, Justin Surrency, and Mann looking to emerge from the pack.
But Nance has some skills that Childress likes as well.
"He played with (Ben) Roethlisberger at Miami-Ohio, so he has some knowledge about the passing game. He's a bigger-in-stature kid, can bend, has good hands. He needs to improve on his physical ability at the line of scrimmage to get off his press coverage," Childress said.
Nance was among a handful of non-rookie youngsters working with the team during its rookie minicamp last weekend and his one year of experience on the practice squad seemed to help. This year, he'll be looking to parlay that experience and Childress's comments into a more extensive stay on the active roster.
Nance To Get A Chance?
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