Vikes wrap up another day with the Chiefs

Updated: July 31, 2003, 8:46 PM ET

RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- The Minnesota Vikings finished their fourth workout with the Kansas City Chiefs on Wednesday afternoon, dog tired but determined to keep improving.

"We're on a mission," coach Mike Tice said. "Our mission is to work extremely hard during training camp and play one of our best games on Sept. 7."

Sounds a bit corny, but that's about all anyone can say at this point -- especially to a team whose success seemingly rides on such a wide margin of error. These Vikings could turn out to be pretty good, but they could struggle, too.

There's far too much development that will or won't happen, specifically on defense and special teams, before the season opener at Green Bay.

"We're very proud of our guys," Tice said. "They've put in a very good week. We got better as a football team since we left yesterday morning."

The defense had its moments against Kansas City's formidable offense, led by quarterback Trent Green, running back Priest Holmes and tight end Tony Gonzalez. The Chiefs finished last year ranked fourth in the NFL in total yards.

"It's a pretty good challenge for our defense, and that's good, though," Tice said. "Certainly everyone else won't be as tough."

Opinions varied on how far along the Vikings' defense, 29th in the league against the pass last year, has come.

Safety Corey Chavous: "We're not satisfied where we're at right now. We've got a long ways to go."

Safety Brian Russell: "We're a better unit already. We're just continuing to improve."

One thing that was indisputable: They were physical.

"It's a great, great opportunity for our guys to get out and get in game-like situations, even though we're supposedly not tackling," Tice said. "I have to keep my guys (remembering) that."

The Chiefs were upset by a handful of hard hits throughout the two days of interaction at Kansas City's training-camp home on the University of Wisconsin-River Falls campus. Vikings cornerback Rushen Jones made what looked like a routine tackle of Chiefs wide receiver Dameane Douglas during a 7-on-7 passing drill, but Douglas significantly injured his lower leg and had to be taken off on a cart.

Kansas City coach Dick Vermeil wasn't happy, since tackling normally isn't part of 7-on-7 situations.

"Did you see any of our players do that? It can be controlled," Vermeil said. "That's the risk you take in these kinds of drills. ... That's too bad it had to happen."

Vermeil, however, wasn't angry with Tice or about to suggest the two teams shouldn't practice together again in the future.

"He's trying to toughen up his defense and all that kind of stuff," Vermeil said. "We're all trying to do that. We've just got to get better discipline."

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^EXTRA POINTS:@ CB Denard Walker, CB Brian Williams, CB Horace Willis and LB Raonall Smith were all held out of the team drills during the afternoon practice with hamstring strains. Walker and Williams, who could be the starting cornerback tandem, will be treated with more caution. ... The Vikings left River Falls for their headquarters, Winter Park, where they had a barbecue for players and their families. They'll be back at their own training camp in Mankato, Minn., for film and a late Friday morning practice -- followed by a team swim to alleviate some of the aches.

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^OVERHEARD:@ Tice, sounding as if he were hungry for tacos while evaluating the morning workout: "I think we were pretty crisp for a soft-shelled practice." The Vikings and Chiefs wore shorts, helmets and smaller, softer shoulder pads, football practice gear that's known as "soft shells."

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