MANKATO -- The mourning Minnesota Vikings resumed practice Thursday, a day after training camp shut down over the heat-related death of offensive tackle Korey Stringer.
Fans lined up along the team's practice field and clapped warmly as the players filed past for the morning session. Offensive linemen gathered in a tight circle on the field and held hands for a prayer led by line coach Mike Tice.
Neither players nor coaches talked to the media before the workout a light session without pads. The temperature was in the 70s, 20 degrees lower than Tuesday, when the heat index reached into the 100s.
A day earlier, head coach Dennis Green said it would be tough to get back on the field.
Korey Stringer posed with his wife Kelci and son KLodie at their Bloomington home iln April 2000.
"We know we have to play football. But that's not on our mind right now," Green said. "We have lost a 27-year-old man and we are going to miss him."
Stringer, a 335-pound Pro Bowl right tackle who started every game for Minnesota the last two seasons, collapsed following an intense practice in stifling heat and humidity Tuesday morning and died 15 hours later at a Mankato hospital of complications from heat stroke.
"God needed the number 77 more than the Vikings," said owner Red McCombs, who remembered no conversations with Stringer about football -- only warm greetings. "I couldn't hug much of him, because I couldn't get around him."
His death shocked nearly everyone in the Vikings community.
"I've never seen him mad, I've never seen him argue with a player," said teammate Randy Moss, who broke down during a news conference. "I think if he's looking down on us right now, he sees all the pain that we feel. But at the same time, he knows the show must go on."
Jacksonville Jaguars guard Leshun Daniels, who played for the Vikings in 1997, was best friends with Stringer since grade school.
"He was in the best shape he has ever come to camp at," Daniels said. "So I thought he would've been fine up there."
It wasn't clear whether an autopsy would be performed. The Blue Earth County coroner wouldn't take a phone call Thursday. At Immanuel-St. Joseph's Mayo Health System hospital, where Stringer died and a pathologist sometimes fills in for the coroner, spokesman Kevin Burns said he knew nothing about an autopsy in the Stringer case. In general, Burns said, if a death isn't being investigated as a criminal matter an autopsy isn't done unless requested by family.
Since Stringer also had to leave Monday's afternoon workout early, exhausted from the heat, his death raised questions about whether he should have been practicing and the circumstances that led to his condition.
"There was nothing that I saw that would indicate any particular pressure or stress on anyone," McCombs said.
NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue ordered all 31 teams to review their rules on training.
"When this happens, it should cause everybody to wake up," Cleveland Browns president Carmen Policy said.
The Vikings were to return to practice Thursday in light pads under much milder conditions. Highs were expected in the mid-80s, with a break in the humidity.
On Wednesday, the Vikings turned aside questions about the heat and said they wanted only to share their memories of Stringer. His gift of imitating teammates and coaches and his genuine interest in community work made him one of the team's most popular players.
At a news conference Wednesday, Green's voice faltered. Cris Carter cried, and Moss sobbed and had to be helped from the podium.
"I remember him making me laugh," Carter said, and recalled how Stringer comforted him after a devastating loss to Atlanta in the 1999 NFC championship game. "I remember him standing there and holding me."
Moss worried about Stringer's 3-year-old son, Kodie.
"The only thing I've been thinking about for the last 24 hours is, if he does die, what happens to his little boy?" Moss said.
"I don't even know how and when I'm going to get over this, because it's hard."
Carter, Moss and several others, including the entire offensive line, were at the hospital Tuesday night until the end.
"We thought everything was going to change," Carter said. "There's nothing that can prepare you for something like this."
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