Posted on Thu, May. 11, 2006

[size=18px]Vikings press ahead on field[/size]

Wilf to set timetable for replacing Foley

BY SEAN JENSEN
Pioneer Press


The Vikings' triangle of authority is down to two prongs.

Still, coach Brad Childress and the remainder of the team's brain trust is pressing on with preparations for this weekend's minicamp for rookies and veterans.

Childress said Wednesday he would prefer the organization hire a replacement for Fran Foley, who was fired as vice president of player personnel last week. But the first-year head coach said he wouldn't oppose altering the team's chain of command.

"I'm open to other ideas and I don't feel threatened by any type of deal that we want to set up, from general manager on down," Childress said. "It does not make any difference to me. None."

Childress said he isn't interested in the dual title of head coach and general manager, a la his previous boss, Andy Reid in Philadelphia.

At least not now.

"At this point, no," said Childress, "After I've established myself in this league, as a head football coach with this team, I don't think anybody who sits in this chair wouldn't (want the dual role)... . But that's down the road. We'll see. I've got my plate full right now."

Childress said owner Zygi Wilf would determine the timetable for replacing Foley. Wilf could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Wilf will visit with other ownership partners in the next few days. The group is expected to discuss the player personnel job, and they face a deadline of sorts.

The Vikings' entire scouting staff has contracts that expire at the end of this month. They could continue to work under the terms of the existing deals or they could pursue jobs elsewhere.

The Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams also are looking for a top personnel executive. The candidate pool includes familiar names. Before hiring Foley, the Vikings interviewed Jacksonville Jaguars pro personnel director Charlie Bailey; Ron Hill, the former vice president of player personnel for the Atlanta Falcons; and former Miami Dolphins general manager Rick Spielman. Other possible candidates for top NFL personnel jobs include Rick Smith, the assistant general manager for the Denver Broncos; Will Lewis, the pro personnel director for the Seattle Seahawks; Reggie McKenzie, the director of pro personnel for the Green Bay Packers; and Jason Licht, the director of player personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Vikings are more settled at positions on the field. Childress said he would not bring in anyone to challenge Brad Johnson at starting quarterback. The coach said he is fine with the four quarterbacks under contract.

Childress was encouraged by his linebackers' play at the last minicamp.

"It's a great competitive position right there," Childress said. "We're identifying guys who can play a couple of different positions."

E.J. Henderson, who started at weak-side linebacker last year, will start working at middle linebacker this weekend, joining Napoleon Harris and Dontarrious Thomas. Childress said he wants position flexibility from veterans. But he would like to leave rookie Chad Greenway at one spot on the outside.

"It's how they play," Childress said. "That's what it'll always be. It won't be because of a name, or you got this many years. And it won't be necessarily in shorts. I think you're remiss in making a judgment until you see a guy play with his pads on."

Briefly: Receiver Troy Williamson, who had minor surgery related to skin that he burned as a child, will not participate in practices this weekend, Childress said. The only other player who will be limited is running back Mewelde Moore (wrist).

• Childress said there would be plenty of room for tight ends Jim Kleinsasser and Jermaine Wiggins in his offense.

"I think you have to keep throwing fastballs at the defense," Childress said. "If you're standing with that personnel package on the field... I think you can become predictable."

• Childress said rookie punter John Torp will compete for the job with incumbent Chris Kluwe.

"There's a competition there," Childress said. "They'll both have a chance to win."

Sean Jensen can be reached at [email protected]

Vikings press ahead on field