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Updated: August 23rd, 2011 5:39pm
Notebook: Letroy Guion capitalizing on chance; Mankato deal expires

Notebook: Letroy Guion capitalizing on chance; Mankato deal expires

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- If Minnesota Vikings coaches are seeking solace while Kevin Williams battles a foot injury and faces a possible suspension, they can find it in tape of their defense's goal-line stand on Saturday night in Seattle.

"One guy in particular, Letroy Guion," defensive coordinator Fred Pagac said on Tuesday. "He lit it up in that situation."

Still only 24 as he enters his fourth NFL season, Guion is enjoying the best preseason of his young career.

Williams' absence has given Guion more snaps than usual as the three-technique defensive tackle, and he was having a monster game against the Seahawks even before disrupting three of four Justin Forsett runs from inside the Vikings' 2-yard line.

"He's come a long way, now," coach Leslie Frazier said. "I'll tell you, just to think back to where Letroy was as a rookie and to see how much he's grown -- those plays are indicative of his growth as a person and a player."

On first-and-goal from the 2, Guion made a play off a block and dropped Forsett after a 1-yard gain. On third-and-goal, Guion penetrated into the backfield to muddle the play. And on fourth-and-goal, Guion stood up right guard John Moffitt, forcing Forsett to cut into a third straight run for no gain.

"We think Letroy's going to be a heck of a football player for us," Pagac said, "and we're anticipating him being a big part of our defense this year."

Guion made the most of limited action last season, recording 15 quarterback pressures, two sacks, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble while playing only 26.1% of the Vikings' defensive snaps as a rotational backup and inside nickel rusher.

He's always had an extremely quick first step, but what has stood out since the start of training camp is the power he seems to have added to his game.

"That's age, that's maturity and that's experience," Pagac said. "He's coming along. Obviously, he has the athletic ability. He's strong, he has quickness and he has toughness."

Shortened suspensions?

On Monday, Williams and Frazier said they still haven't been informed whether Williams will be forced to serve his long-delayed "StarCaps" suspension the first four games of the season.

On Tuesday, the Pioneer Press reported may face only a two-game suspension under the NFL's new policy on banned substances -- and likely won't be suspended until after the Sept. 11 opener at San Diego.

Citing an NFL players association official, the Pioneer Press reported the new policy would distinguish between positive tests for steroids (six games) and diuretics (two games). But the case involving Williams, former teammate Pat Williams and New Orleans end Will Smith -- who all tested positive for the banned diuretic bumetanide in July 2008 -- remains unresolved.

An NFL spokesman declined comment.

Mankato deal expires

The Vikings' contract with Minnesota State University, Mankato has expired and it remains to be seen if the team will return next season. The Vikings have trained in Mankato since 1966.

Steve LaCroix, Vikings vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer, said the team hasn't approach university officials yet about extending the agreement.

"As we've always said, we appreciate our relationships with the university and the community," LaCroix said.

Health watch

Receiver Juaquin Iglesias left practice after a hard fall during a team offense period.

Iglesias was leaping for a pass up the seam when he collided with safety Eric Frampton and crashed to the ground on his left side. Athletic trainers came to Iglesias' aid on the field and appeared to be working on his left arm once he reached the sideline.

Frazier didn't address reporters after practice, so no update was available on Iglesias' injury.

The same seven players continued to sit out practice: halfback Toby Gerhart (ankle/Achilles), fullback Matt Asiata (hip flexor), cornerback Asher Allen (toe), linebacker Ross Homan (concussion), linebacker Mark Washington (shoulder stinger) and Williams, who thinks he has plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

Anthony Herrera (knee/triceps) took all the first-team reps at right guard, but offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said the team hasn't decided if Herrera will make his preseason debut on Saturday against Dallas.

Left end Brian Robison left practice briefly but returned after getting his right ankle taped.

McKinnie gets a deal

Three weeks after the Vikings released him, Bryant McKinnie found a new home.

The veteran left tackle agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens, the team announced. Multiple reports said the deal is worth up to $7.5 million, including a $1 million bonus.

"I'm out on the 1st flight smoking 2morrow am," McKinnie wrote on Twitter. "Let's Get it!"

McKinnie, 31, still must pass a physical to complete the deal. The results of the physical could be interesting, given the weight and cholesterol issues that led the Vikings to cut him.

Quick hits

• LaCroix said Saturday's preseason home opener will air on KARE (Channel 11) in the Twin Cities. The Vikings and other teams are given more flexibility by the NFL in the preseason to give tickets to youth and charitable groups in order to achieve a sellout.

• Pagac said he expects defensive starters to play "at least one half" and at least 20 to 25 plays on Saturday, although he cautioned that coaches still are discussing playing time. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave wouldn't speculate on playing time for the starting offense or said no decision has been made on whether Christian Ponder or Joe Webb will run the No. 2 offense. Ponder appeared to take more second-team reps in practice.

Jamarca Sanford took the lion's share of first-team reps at strong safety on Tuesday and likely will start against Dallas. But Pagac said Sanford's competition with Tyrell Johnson "is still right where it was. Jamarca started the first game. Tyrell started the second game. They have even number of snaps, and they're going to continue to do so for the next two games."

• Rookie HB Caleb King passed a physical and joined the team for practice on Tuesday. The Vikings made room on the 90-man roster by waiving G Rodney Huntley.

Judd Zulgad contributed.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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