Tuesday, August 18, 2009
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Vikings RB Young fighting for spot

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[August 18, 2009]  EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Vikings know what running back Albert Young can do when he is running plays for the other team.

In their preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts, they got a glimpse of what he is capable of in their own offense.

The practice squad player led the team with 58 yards rushing in the 13-3 victory, getting off to a strong start as he pushes for a job on the active roster this season.

"I think it was nice to actually go out and run our offense again," Young said Monday. "Being on the practice squad for an entire year, you run other teams' plays. So to actually be able to run our plays once again in a live situation was good."

The former Iowa standout signed as a free agent after going undrafted last season and spent his entire rookie year on the practice squad. His main responsibility was running the opponent's offense for the scout team against the starting defense and he never was active for a game.

It was a difficult adjustment for a player who was used to being the big man on campus for the Hawkeyes. He is only the third player in Iowa history to rush for 3,000 yards in his career and scored 23 touchdowns.

"I never ran scout team in college. That was the first time I wasn't actually in live action," he said. "The main thing is you've got to be blessed with the situation you're in.

"Even though I was on the practice squad, there's plenty of talented guys out there that weren't even on the practice squad. So I just tried to make best of my opportunity and learn the playbook and know your role."

When Young signed with the Vikings, he knew he was a long shot at best to make the active roster because the team already had superstar Adrian Peterson, versatile backup Chester Taylor and veteran return man Maurice Hicks ahead of him on the roster.

With Hicks gone, the Vikings have an opening this year. Young is competing with Antone Smith and former Boise State star Ian Johnson for the third-string job.

"It's for the taking, for one of us to go out there and grab," Young said. "You want to go out there and make the most of it."

A straight-ahead runner, Young showed nimble feet in traffic and a veteran's patience while he set up blocks. Five of his 14 carries went for seven yards or longer and he proved capable as a blocker in the passing game.

"That's something that we expected from him," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "We've been excited about Albert. He's always been looking for an opportunity. ... For us, he did a nice job."

The performance also didn't come as a surprise to linebacker Chad Greenway, who played with Young at Iowa when he topped 100 yards rushing in seven straight games as a sophomore in 2005.

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"Albert's always been a guy who works really hard. He's always been really good at what he does," Greenway said. "He's undersized, but he plays with a big heart. He can block well, knows his assignments and runs hard."

Even though the 5-foot-8 Young didn't play in a game last season, he still went to the Pro Bowl. Peterson invited all the running backs with him to Honolulu, and Young has made it a point to learn as much as he can from the reigning NFL rushing champion and Taylor, the do-it-all backup.

"The main thing is you've got to pick certain things each of them has in their games and incorporate it in yours," Young said. "There's a reason why those guys are successful so I wouldn't be doing myself justice if I wasn't trying to take little pieces of their games."

NOTES: QB Sage Rosenfels (ankle), WR Bernard Berrian (hamstring), TE Garrett Mills (shoulder) and TE Jim Kleinsasser did not practice. Their status for Friday night's game against Kansas City is still in question. DE Jared Allen limped off the field with an apparent ankle injury, but there was no word on his condition.

[Associated Press; By JON KRAWCZYNSKI]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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