MANKATO -- Derrick Alexander was one of the Minnesota Vikings' biggest busts last year after being bothered by minor injuries and finally blowing out his knee in early November.
He came back this year at a reduced rate, with a chance to earn one of the final wide receiver spots on the roster, but his knee has again been a problem.
Alexander has had swelling in the knee and been unable to practice at full speed the past few days.
"In talking with him, I think he is starting to come around," said coach Mike Tice, who expects to play Alexander significantly in the Vikings' exhibition opener Saturday night against Jacksonville.
"See if he can get his legs and timing underneath him and see how he does in the game," Tice said. "I don't know if he has really had a lot of opportunities. ... Certainly, he is going to get a lot of work on Saturday night because we have to see if he is going to be the guy."
Randy Moss, D'Wayne Bates, Kelly Campbell and Nate Burleson are the first four. That leaves Keenan Howry, Cedric James, Kenny Clark and Alexander fighting for one or two spots.
UNHAPPY COACH: After a sharp scrimmage Tuesday night, Tice was unhappy with his team's focus in a sloppy practice in shells (shoulder pads and helmets) on Wednesday morning. On several occasions, penalties forced the guilty team to run sprints.
"For the first time this camp, I put a challenge on the team," Tice said. "As a football team, we didn't answer the challenge. ... The mental focus by a bunch of players with the offsides, misalignments (and) missassignments were unacceptable."
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