Five For Fighting

The Vikings will have five seemingly competent rookie OL free agents fighting for a very limited number of opportunities in training camp.

While the Vikings did not select any offensive linemen in this year's draft, the team was among the most active in the NFL in signing rookie free-agent linemen.

In fact, of the 10 backup offensive linemen the Vikings will bring to training camp this month in Mankato, five of them are players who went unselected in this year's draft.

The list includes center/guard Kyle Cook (6-3, 295 pounds) from Michigan State; guard Brian Daniels (6-4, 303) from Colorado; tackle Josh Day (6-4, 304) from Colorado State; tackle Chase Johnson (6-8, 330) from Wyoming; and center/guard Dan Mozes (6-3, 293) from West Virginia.

Those five will be competing for roster spots with guard Anthony Herrera, center Norm Katnik, guard Jimmy Martin and tackle Adam O'Connor.

Marcus Johnson, a second-round pick in 2005, will attempt to beat out Ryan Cook for the starting job at right tackle and seems assured of at least winning a roster spot.

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said the five rookie free agents impressed him during the Vikings' offseason workouts.

"I think that's about the best five that we could come up with and that any of us have been around as far as free agents go," he said. "All five of them have skills to be able to make the team, to be able to fight for competition at different spots as well as the practice squad. I think they're all doing a nice job.

"We have a big range out there with Chase. We have a couple guys inside with Mozes and Daniels and (Kyle) Cook that can move from guards and centers, so we have a good mix in there to be able to make some decisions."

The size on Chase Johnson is not a misprint. He really is 6-8, 330 pounds. That means he figures to get a long look in camp.

"Any time you get that much size out there at left tackle, just like Bryant (McKinnie), they're tough to run around," Bevell said. "Right now we just need to work on his (physicality)."


Negotiations with running back Adrian Peterson should heat up this week as the Vikings and many other teams attempt to sign their first-round draft picks.

The Vikings already have come to terms with sixth-round linebacker Rufus Alexander and seventh-round selections Tyler Thigpen (quarterback) and Chandler Williams (receiver).

Talks with first-round picks usually have not gotten started until after July 4 and that has been the case again this year. Only the Bears, who drafted Miami tight end Greg Olsen with the 31st pick overall, were able to come to terms with their top selection before the holiday.

Last year the Vikings signed first-round linebacker Chad Greenway on the same day rookies and selected veterans were due to report.

  • The practice fields the Vikings use during training camp at Minnesota State, Mankato have been completely renovated. New sod, a new drainage system and a new sprinkler system have been installed. Also the fields have been shaved down to a 1.5 percent grade from a 4 percent grade. The upgrades cost about $400,000; the expense was shared by the Vikings and the university.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think we are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were last year. Just the fact that you come out for practice and everything is so familiar." - Left guard Steve Hutchinson on where he feels the offensive line is at compared to a year ago.

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