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Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Vikings receivers looking healthy for Packers


EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Even Randy Moss couldn't disguise how thin the Minnesota Vikings were at wide receiver last weekend against the New York Giants.

But he's expected to have more help this Sunday with Kelly Campbell and D'Wayne Bates back in the lineup against Green Bay.

Bates, the No. 2 wideout, has been hobbled since bruising his foot Sept. 14 against Chicago. Still, the Vikings were OK without him thanks to the play of Campbell and Nate Burleson.

But then Campbell was out with a calf injury against the Giants, leaving Daunte Culpepper with Moss and two rookies -- Burleson and Keenan Howry -- as his receivers. The Giants secondary had an easier time clamping down on Moss as a result.

"We missed him more than we thought we would," Minnesota coach Mike Tice said Wednesday about Campbell.

This week, the entire receivers corps looks healthy. Both Bates and Campbell completed Wednesday's practice.

Bates, who has four catches for 33 yards and a touchdown, barely played against the Giants, but he should see significant action against the Packers.

Campbell has nine catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns, and he's tied with Moss for the longest reception of the season at 72 yards.

"He's a playmaker, and he normally makes one big play a game," Tice said.

Said Culpepper: "It's always important to have somebody as fast as him on the field for us and who has a knack for the big play. ... I'm glad to have him back this week."

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^CAPTAIN JACK:@ Jack Brewer was naturally disappointed when he fell out of the race for a starting safety spot in training camp. But the former University of Minnesota standout is still getting his chance to shine as the Vikings' special teams captain.

Against the Giants, he recorded Minnesota's first blocked punt since 1989, although the Vikings botched the play and New York ended up with a first down.

Try again this week?

"I always try. Definitely, I'm going to try to come at 'em again," Brewer said.

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^SEEING RED:@ Tice and his players have clearly grown sick of questions stemming from owner Red McCombs' locker room tirade following the loss to New York.

When a reporter inquired about the incident on Wednesday, Culpepper responded: "I don't have a comment on that, man. That happened in the locker room. I wish nobody would've ever heard about that."

Tice agreed, saying the incident was in the past.

"Can we talk about the football game, please?"

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^EXTRA POINTS: Tice has decided to keep Brian Williams as his starting right cornerback over Ken Irvin. On Monday, Tice indicated that Irvin might start, but he changed his mind after watching film. ... The only reported injury on Wednesday was to linebacker Raonall Smith (hamstring), who was listed as doubtful for Sunday's game. "He probably could play if we needed to force him into action. We don't have to force him into action, so we won't," Tice said.

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^QUOTE OF THE DAY:@ When asked if defensive tackle Chris Hovan was the scariest-looking player he's seen, offensive guard Chris Liwienksi replied: "I would agree he is one of the top five. I am not exactly a beautiful man either though."

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Andres Ybarra can be reached at aybarra(at)ap.org.