Since the linebacker position seems to be the one with the most questions so far, I thought I'd post this update for everyone.
Sunday, August 8, 2004
[size=18px]Newman makes impression on Vikings coaches[/size](source)
MANKATO, Minn. -- Linebacker Keith Newman didn't sign with the Minnesota Vikings until June, but he's showing that he's as quick with the playbook as he is chasing down quarterbacks.
"I think I'm progressing pretty well," Newman said Saturday after a joint practice with the Kansas City Chiefs. "After I signed, I had to study on my own, but now that I'm in camp, I'm catching up with the defense."
Newman had a couple of sacks against the Chiefs, and he made some hard hits during contact drills.
The Vikings were looking for competition for Chris Claiborne at strong-side linebacker, and they seem to have found it.
"(He's) definitely a guy we're going to be able to count on, and he can rush the passer," head coach Mike Tice said. "Claiborne has to have a great preseason because Keith Newman is a good football player. That's a good problem to have if we've got two good football players there."
Newman joined the Vikings because of his familiarity with coordinator Ted Cottrell's defense, having played in Buffalo from 1999-2002. He thinks the work against the Chiefs this weekend was valuable, but he also recognizes the tough task he faces every day in practice.
"Kansas City has a lot of weapons, but you have to remember I go against Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper, Michael Bennett, the list goes on," Newman said. "When you compete against those guys, you're going to get better."
Newman said his strength is stopping the run, but the 6-foot-2, 248-pounder, who played with Atlanta last season, has looked good on the blitz.
"I think I'm well-rounded," he said. "I can do a lot of things."
ON THE BUBBLE: At the very least, Tice has his top three receivers set: Randy Moss, Marcus Robinson and Nate Burleson. Keenan Howry has impressed Tice and, for now, holds the edge over Kelly Campbell for No. 4.
That means, as always, the fight for the remaining wide receiver roster spots is tight.
The Vikings are looking for two backup receiver/special teams players. So far, Ryan Hoag and Lane Danielson look to be the leading contenders. Both saw a lot of action against the Chiefs.
"We're very pleased with the pickup of Ryan Hoag," Tice said earlier in the week. "He's done very, very nice."
Danielson, meanwhile, has drawn comparisons to former special teams ace Chris Walsh.
"Lane is, I think, going to show us that he's going to really make us think hard about keeping him on the active roster," Tice said.
OFFORD'S OPPORTUNITY: Tice had high expectations for safety Willie Offord when he was drafted in 2002.
His rookie year was plagued by mental mistakes, which caused him to lose confidence. Last season, he was beaten out by Brian Russell for a starting spot alongside Corey Chavous.
In training camp this year, Offord seems to have his swagger back. He made several hard hits against the Chiefs this weekend and also has been getting work at linebacker in the nickel package.
"We're trying to find a niche for him," Tice said, who has said that Tyrone Carter probably has the edge on Offord for the fourth spot.
"Willie's worked hard this offseason," Tice said. "He's a big young man. ... We have to try to find a little niche for him because he's been in the program long enough."
BRIEFLY: The players had Sunday off and will resume workouts Monday morning.