<
>

Running back Peterson remains unsigned by Vikes

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings coach Brad
Childress has frequently expressed confidence that his team's
offense will be better this season, stressing the benefit of
increased familiarity with the system, the terminology, and each
other.

Oh, and Adrian Peterson will probably help a little bit, too.

The seventh overall draft pick and explosive running back from
Oklahoma was chosen to inject some life into an offense that showed
little of it during a 6-10 finish last season, the first with
Childress in charge. Peterson is expected to share time -- and play
together -- in the backfield with Chester Taylor, a 1,200-yard
rusher in 2006.

Before he can help, however, Peterson must have a contract.

The Vikings are required to report to training camp July 25, and
their first practice is July 27, leaving plenty of time to complete
a deal and no reason -- yet -- to believe there will be any snags.
Chicago and San Francisco are the only NFL teams who have signed
their first-rounders, and no second-round picks are under contract.

But holdouts do happen, as Vikings fans remember.

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie, the seventh selection in 2002,
joined the team 98 days late while the occasionally contentious
negotiation process dragged into November. McKinnie and Peterson
are represented by the same agent, Ben Dogra, who worked out a
seven-year contract extension with the team for McKinnie last fall.

Dogra didn't return phone calls Tuesday.

Rookie deals are guided by an unofficially slotting system, so
the contracts given by Washington and Atlanta to the No. 6 and No.
8 selections, respectively, will be important barometers for the
Vikings. The Redskins don't report until July 27, and the Falcons
are due in camp the same day as Minnesota.

"They all like to see what the state-of-the-art is,
moneywise," Childress said in an interview Tuesday. "It'll be
right to the end."

Childress said he's talked to Peterson about the contract
process and warned him of the disadvantage of missing time in
training camp.

"Then his agent's working him on the back end, saying, 'Hey,
here's what they're going to say to you,'" Childress said,
smiling. "It's the game inside the game."

Predictably, the coach said he expected Peterson to show up with
the rest of his teammates.

"I'm quite certain, though, as long as he's played the game
that he understands the importance of practice at the high level
that he's at," Childress said.