Posted on Fri, Sep. 23, 2005
Moore has a grudge for Saints
BY SEAN JENSEN
Vikings running back Mewelde Moore enjoyed the first 100-yard rushing day of his NFL career last season at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.
A native of Baton Rouge, La., and a graduate of New Orleans-based Tulane University, Moore has mixed emotions as the New Orleans Saints visit the Metrodome on Sunday. He feels for the players and the people of the Gulf Coast but still is annoyed that the Saints passed on him three times in the 2004 draft.
"It's one of those things that you always put right there in your heart," Moore said, pointing to his chest.
Moore, selected in the fourth round by the Vikings, could have ample chance Sunday to show the Saints what they're missing.
If practices Wednesday and Thursday are any indication, Moore will start for the first time this season. He took the bulk of the carries during workouts on both days.
Moore said he was unsure whether he would be the featured back against the Saints. But he said: "In my mind, I'm always a starter. So I always prepare that way. Whether I do or don't (start), I'll be ready."
Vikings coach Mike Tice has been mum on his running back plans.
Tice anointed Michael Bennett as the starter during the preseason, projecting Bennett would rush for 1,600 yards in his contract year. But Tice might give Moore a shot after Bennett fumbled twice in the 37-8 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Vikings have the NFL's lowest-rated run offense. The Saints rank 23rd in the league in rushing defense.
Last season in New Orleans, Moore gained 109 yards on 15 carries and caught seven passes for 78 yards, giving him a career-high 187 total yards.
Meanwhile, the Vikings could be shopping Bennett to other teams. The Vikings had a brief conversation about Bennett with the Arizona Cardinals, a team coached by Dennis Green, who drafted the running back late in the first round of the 2001 draft. But Rod Graves, the Cardinals' vice president of football operations, told the East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune that the Vikings initiated the discussion.
Neither team, however, expects a deal.
"I can't do anything about it," Bennett said. "I can just do my job, and if it's for me to get shipped out of here, then it's out of my hands."
Injury update: Starting weak-side linebacker E.J. Henderson indicated he would not play Sunday. He has not practiced this week and remains doubtful with a high ankle sprain.
Dontarrious Thomas probably will start.
Asked how much Thomas has improved since last season, defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell said: "Dramatically. He's a lot more confident, and he's playing a lot faster. He's ready to go."
Receiver Nate Burleson did not practice again. He is listed as doubtful but essentially has been ruled out against the Saints.
Middle linebacker Sam Cowart (calf) said he is set to return this week, and safety Darren Sharper (knee) said he continues to improve, although he missed the final portion of practice Thursday.
Defensive end Lance Johnstone was added to the injury report as probable with a mild right hamstring strain.
Briefly: With Nate Burleson likely out, Koren Robinson will play in a handful of packages at receiver.
• Lester Bagley, the Vikings' vice president of stadium affairs, is arranging meetings with the finance staff of Gov. Tim Pawlenty and all four political caucuses to give them insight on how the team's stadium project with Anoka County would be funded.
Only 3 leagues this year. No sense in rooting for everyone in the NFL.