Vikings coach Brad Childress knows LaDainian Tomlinson will have plenty of questions when the free-agent running back visits Winter Park on Thursday. Childress also will have plenty to share with Tomlinson about what type of role he could play in the Vikings' offense.
And if everybody likes what they hear, there is a good chance the future Hall of Famer will be wearing purple in 2010.
"I think probably he's coming in and touching and tasting us and we're doing the same thing to see where his mind is at," Childress told reporters Wednesday while attending the Gophers Pro Day at the Gibson Nagurski Football complex on the University of Minnesota campus. "I had a great conversation with [Tomlinson] yesterday, interrupted him on the golf course. Looking out my window I said, 'Well, I can't lie to you. It's not a tropical paradise here or anything like that.' But that's why we've got a roof on the place. It's a little bit of both. Does the situation fit him?
“I’m sure he wants to know what our vision is for him and then our sense for him is will he fit? From a mindset standpoint, from a physical standpoint, from a systems standpoint. And all along you talk to the people that are able to allay any fears you have."
Childress said that has been done by having conversations with various people that know Tomlinson. This includes Vikings linebacker Ben Leber, who played with Tomlinson in San Diego. Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson and Tomlinson are both represented by agent Tom Condon and were first-round picks in the 2001 draft. Childress even mentioned Chargers coach Norv Turner as a source of information on Tomlinson. "You kind of turn over the bricks everywhere," Childress said.
The big question is how well Tomlinson could accept being the clear-cut No. 2 guy to Adrian Peterson. Tomlinson spent his first nine seasons with San Diego and rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first eight years. In Minnesota, he would be replacing Chester Taylor as the Vikings' third-down back.
"I would think he knows," what his role would be, Childress said, "but I always want to over-communicate clarity so we won't hopscotch around that. We'll have to show him what his role will be."
The biggest reason Tomlinson would want to play for the Vikings is the opportunity to win his first Super Bowl ring. Clearly if Tomlinson signs it will provide a good indication of the confidence within the organization that quarterback Brett Favre will return for another season.
"I don't think it hurts," Childress said when asked about Tomlinson possibly getting a ring. "It's the old close but no cigar. That's what comes to mind. I'm sure as he's surveying the landscape of people that are approaching he and his agent that's always something. You don't really want to go somewhere and get your brains beat out. You want to go and have a chance to win and compete and win that ultimate prize."