Focusing on the defense shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that has followed Minnesota Vikings football over the past couple seasons. This is exactly what the Vikings have done, starting at 12:01 a.m this past Friday.
Actually, the Vikings got an early jump on the timetable in contacting recently released cornerback Corey Fuller by Cleveland in a salary cap related move. Fuller, a former Viking, was contacted immediately by Minnesota to help solidify a weak defensive backfield. Coming off solid seasons in 2001 and 2002, Fuller was viewed as the Browns' best cornerback and he will not be easily replaced.
The Vikings have extended an offer to Fuller, which he will mull over for a few days. An answer is expected early in the week from Fuller. Fuller, who has some personal issues with the Browns over the handling of his release, may be tempted to sign with a team in the AFC, where he would have a chance to 'get back' at the Browns.
Additional help in the defensive secondary could come in the means of veteran defensive back Tory James. A league source tells this column that the Vikings will push hard to sign James when he visits Minnesota this week. For James, having the opportunity to start following a successful run as the third cornerback for the Oakland Raiders is a necessity. Solid in pass coverage, James would be a solidifying factor for a team that attempts to improve its pass defense.
Tyrone Williams, the recently released cornerback formerly of the Green Bay Packers, has been contacted by the Vikings. Williams is expected to visit Minnesota late next week.
The waiting game for quarterback Neil O'Donnell is coming to a conclusion. Indications coming from those close to O'Donnell are that the player is having a difficult time making a decision to leave Tennessee. At this time, the Vikings are poised to pass on O'Donnell if he is unable to commit by mid-week.
Joel Segal, the agent for Vikings free agent defensive lineman Lance Johnstone, has had talks with the team about Johnstone returning.
"We are looking at all the options for Johnstone. Numerous teams have expressed an interest in bringing him in to visit, and we are talking with Minnesota," Segal said. "I wouldn't say that we are close to an agreement with the Vikings, but we had some progressive discussions. At this time we are leaving all our options open."
Cornerback Dexter McCleon, whom the Vikings are interested in, is visiting Kansas City today. He also has trips planned to Minnesota, Cincinnati and Atlanta.
Baltimore and Orlando Brown have had discussions on the lineman returning to Baltimore. A decision should be made by the end of next week with Baltimore, Washington, New England, and Minnesota all in the mix.
* The Cincinnati Bengals are looking for a trading partner for the first selection in the NFL Draft. If the Bengals are unable to make a deal, defensive end Terrell Suggs is their first choice.
* Dallas and Carolina are making strong bids to acquire the services of recently released running back Stephen Davis. At the present time, Dallas appears to be the front-runner.
* Cleveland is making a strong run at linebacker Shawn Barber and have discussed offering a contract to restricted free agent Nate Webster and free-agent linebacker Twan Russell.
* Washington continues to talk about moving up in the draft to select WR Andre Johnson.
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