Archive for Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Vikings sign two defensive ends

March 28, 2001

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— Defensive linemen Lance Johnstone and Fernando Smith agreed to contract terms with Minnesota on Tuesday.

Johnstone, who spent his entire five-year NFL career with Oakland, led the Raiders in sacks in 1998-99. He had 31/2 sacks while limited to nine starts in 2000 because of a groin injury.

Smith, who played with the Vikings from 1994-97, was signed before the team's regular-season finale last year and started in both of Minnesota's playoff games.

"Lance is a tremendous, explosive football player," Vikings coach Dennis Green said. "We think with full mini-camps and training camp that Fernando is going to have an outstanding season."

Salary-cap problems have forced the Vikings to let several players go this off-season, including offensive tackle Todd Steussie, wide receiver Matthew Hatchette, defensive lineman John Burrough, John Randle and Tony Williams, and linebacker Dwayne Rudd.

Minnesota has signed three free agents, including Johnstone, tight end Byron Chamberlain from Denver, wide receiver Jake Reed from New Orleans.

"We feel that we have been very successful in our overall approach to unrestricted free agency," Green said.

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