Smith, Williams vie for starting role

Updated: July 29, 2003, 2:25 PM ET
By By Ryan Early | NFL Insider
A lot of optimism surrounds the Vikings after they finished 2002 strong then, for the first time in years, made a concerted effort to improve the defensive talent in the offseason. After the signing of Chris Claiborne from the Lions and the drafting of middle linebacker E.J. Henderson, the Vikings have such depth on the unit that they are flirting with changing to a 3-4 formation. There are still weak spots, notably at defensive end and safety.

On offense, improvement is expected out of Daunte Culpepper after he got his big money contract. He will be playing behind the biggest offensive line in the league, but the main position battles center on who will replace the injured Michael Bennett and the ever-present question of who will play opposite Randy Moss?