[size=13pt]Time for returner reconsideration[/size]

Last update: September 07, 2006 – 6:02 PM

The Vikings entered training camp willing to hold auditions for the kick and punt return jobs but thinking that in the worst-case scenario they would be all right in both areas.
Koren Robinson was coming off a Pro Bowl appearance after averaging 26.0 yards and scoring a touchdown on kick returns, and Mewelde Moore opened camp as the main punt returner. The Vikings' goal was not to have to use Robinson on kick returns because he also would be the No. 1 receiver but at least they thought he would be there as insurance.

We now know they thought wrong. Robinson is no longer on the roster, having been arrested and then released. Moore missed three of the four exhibitions and several practices because of a knee injury.

So where does that leave the Vikings' return game entering the regular-season opener Monday night at Washington?

"In a perfect world, I would say a guy like Mewelde, provided he has a good week of practice, would be back there settling underneath punts," coach Brad Childress said. "I think we'd probably change it up with a couple of different guys [on kick returns]."

Moore returned 21 punts in 2005, averaging 11.7 yards and scoring on a 71-yard runback. Moore was replaced during the preseason by Jason Carter, who has been placed on the practice squad but could find himself back on the active roster at some point.

Childress indicated one of the guys who will be used on kick returns is speedy receiver Troy Williamson, who averaged 16 yards on 12 kick returns. Williamson, though, has had his problems on returns, losing a fumble against Oakland on the first play of the preseason. Childress pointed to Williamson's 18-yard return -- negated by a penalty -- in the preseason finale against Dallas as a sign the second-year player is improving.

"I thought he did a good job of pushing it back in there," said Childress, adding, "and then there are a couple of other candidates that remain to be seen right now."

The coach refused to acknowledge the mystery candidates but admitted they likely wouldn't solve all the Vikings' problems. "There's not many secret weapons, but there are different people that have the ability to settle under a kick," he said.


JUDD ZULGAD