Bates Named Starter

D'Wayne Bates

Frustrated with a lack of production from Derrick Alexander, D'Wayne Bates has again been named the starter for the Vikings.

Vikings coach Mike Tice first got mad at Derrick Alexander before he actually became a Viking. Under a bizarre sign-and-release deal with the Chiefs, Alexander and his agent were free to seek out deals with other teams before his official June 1 release date.

The Vikings were convinced they had a deal with Alexander. Then he started making visits to other teams. Tice was so infuriated that he threatened to quit looking at Alexander and turn his attention toward former Packer and current Eagle Antonio Freeman. Within 48 hours, Alexander signed. But, he had missed two mini-camps by then and, when he was slowed by injury in training camp, D'Wayne Bates was named the starter and held the job until the Week 4 loss to Seattle. When he was slow to recover from his injury, Tice called out Alexander in the media. He responded.

After two games and a much-discussed drop-turned-interception for touchdown early in last Sunday's game, Alexander is getting sent another message. You're headed back to the bench. Bates has been named the starter for Sunday's game with the Jets and, if Alexander doesn't show marked improvement this week in practice, Tice has hinted Chris Walsh will be the third man in the three-receiver sets of the Vikings.

As a veteran, Alexander knows that being called out is a testament to his work ethic. However, seeing as Dick Vermeil referred to Alexander as being one of the "cancers" on last year's team, if he doesn't pick up his play don't be shocked to see the Vikings release him. At this point, he has two options -- put up and shut up or just get out.

THURSDAY NOTES
* Henri Crockett practiced Wednesday, but was complaining of pain in his injured elbow. He will be evaluated today before a decision is made whether he returns to the starting lineup Sunday.
* Despite a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee, Matt Birk is listed as probable and expected to start Sunday.
* The Vikings made six roster moves Wednesday. Rookie guard Ed Ta'amu was placed on practice squad/injured reserve after undergoing knee surgery and practice squad players CB Carey Scott and TE Shawn Draper were released. In their place, three players were signed -- RB Jeremy Allen, TE Jeff Kostrewa and OT Matt Anderle. Allen and Kostrewa have been signed and cut by the Vikings earlier this year.
* This Sunday's game will be the first time Randy Moss and Chad Pennington have both played on the same field as professionals. For those unaware of their connection, Pennington was Moss' quarterback in 1997 at Marshall University, when Moss caught 24 TD passes.

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