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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Winfield back on board

Whatever rift existed between cornerback Antoine Winfield and the Vikings apparently has been mended.

Coach Brad Childress announced today that Winfield, who except for the mandatory June 1-3 minicamp hasn't participated in the team's offseason program, would be at Winter Park on Monday for the final two days of organized team activities.

"I'm excited to have his leadership back here," Childress said. "He's a talented veteran."

Childress wouldn't say what prompted his starting cornerback's change of heart, deferring those questions to Winfield and his agent.

Winfield wasn't immediately available for comment, but agent Ashanti Webb said the ninth-year veteran and Childress were able to open up the lines of communication during a series of conversations they had over the last 3-4 weeks.

"The real positive of this has been the relationship he and Brad have been able to solidify," Webb said. "Sometimes it takes something like this to get everybody on the same page."

Winfield indicated at minicamp that his absence was related to the Vikings not doing enough to improve their offense during the offseason, not contract-related, and Webb said there was no adjustment to his deal.

"He's fine with his contract," Webb said. "It was never about that."

As a coach, Childress said he's happy to have one of his best defensive players back on board.

"I think it always is (a relief) from a coach's standpoint that your focus is on the 2007 season," he said, "and we're not opening up training camp waiting to see who's in, who's out and what frame of mind they're in. He's in a good place, he's highly conditioned and talented and he's a valuable leader of our football team."

Childress said the missed voluntary practices shouldn't be a problem for Winfield and that there are no hard feelings on either side.

"We're all kind of mother hens as coaches," he said. "You'd like to have everybody around you all the time, but that's just not the NFL these days, particularly if someone has personal issues he's working through."


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