MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Dennis Green has a long way to go to turn
around one of the NFL's worst teams. And that's after he gets his
Green's return to Minnesota -- and to coaching -- was marred by
penalties and a flat offense, and the Vikings beat the Cardinals
23-6 in an exhibition game Saturday night.
To make matters worse, another one of his receivers was injured.
Star rookie Larry Fitzgerald, the No. 3 pick in this year's draft,
sprained his left ankle in the first half. It appeared to be a mild
injury, but Fitzgerald was walking with a protective boot in the
locker room. Neither he nor Green had much of a prognosis.
X-rays were negative.
"I think I'll be all right," he said. "I've never been
"I just think we are not there yet with the firepower we need
to make this offense go," Green said.
Green coached his first NFL game since the Vikings, the team he
led for 10 seasons, fired him in 2001. After spending the last two
years as a television analyst, Green was handed the task of turning
around one of the league's worst teams.
He has a lot of work ahead of him.
The Cardinals were flagged nine times for 72 yards. Starting
quarterback Josh McCown went 4-for-6 for 29 yards in limited
action. Green also limited running back Emmitt Smith, who sustained
a mild injury.
Fabian Davis led Arizona's receivers with 32 yards on one catch,
and rookie Larry Croom had 37 yards on eight rushes. Arizona's
points came on two field goals by Neil Rackers.
"Our defense was very average and the offense was not very good
at all," Green said.
Minnesota had seven sacks, but the Vikings' offense wasn't that
impressive, managing only a couple of decent drives.
Minnesota's league-best offense in 2003 got off slowly before
Daunte Culpepper hit Randy Moss for a 48-yard score to start the
second quarter. Culpepper (8-for-10 for 120 yards, a touchdown and
one interception) started the drive with a 16-yard completion to
Nate Burleson and followed with a 15-yarder to tight end Jermaine
Wiggins, acquired in the offseason to bolster Minnesota's passing
Rookie running back Mewelde Moore scored on a 39-yard run in the
third period to give the Vikings a 20-6 lead. Aaron Elling, a
second-year placekicker who's struggled recently in training camp,
hit two of three field goals, missing from 51 yards.
Rookie Dan Orner hit a 46-yarder in the fourth quarter.
"We showed our explosiveness on offense," Vikings coach Mike
Tice said. "It took a while to get going. We missed some things by
Minnesota had 103 yards rushing. Moore led the team with 52
yards on the ground.
Arizona kept Minnesota from scoring on its first possession when
Culpepper threw deep for Moss in triple coverage. With the ball
sailing toward the end zone, Starks tipped it from Moss and Harris
came down with it.
It was a rare Arizona highlight.
"I've been concerned that the offense hasn't caught up with the
defense," Green said.
Green wasn't the only one making a homecoming. Fitzgerald, the
No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft, worked for the Vikings as
a ball boy and starred in high school in the suburb of Richfield.
Smith, 35, is being counted on as Arizona's featured running
back after Marcel Shipp broke his left leg during an intrasquad
scrimmage. Smith, the NFL's career rushing leader, ran for 22 yards
on four carries and had one catch for 10 yards.
Vikings LB Mike Nattiel (shoulder) and CB Brian Williams
(knee) were both injured. Tice said they'll be re-evaluated Sunday,
but said he expects both to miss at least a week. ... Also injured
for Arizona were FB James Hodgins (shoulder), and DEs Fred
Wakefield (concussion) and Kenny King (wrist).
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