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Vikings interview Cottrell, meet Caldwell

MINNEAPOLIS (Jan. 6, 2005) -- The Minnesota Vikings interviewed defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell on Jan. 4 as the team moved quickly to find a new head coach.

The Vikings, who have been tightlipped about the interview process and aren't commenting publicly, also have interviewed Philadelphia offensive coordinator Brad Childress and Kansas City offensive coordinator Al Saunders as potential replacements for Mike Tice. Vikings representatives also met with Colts assistant head coach Jim Caldwell on Jan. 4 in Indianapolis.

Cottrell is the architect of a big-play defense that became Minnesota's strength over the second half of the season, leading the Vikings to a 7-2 finish after a 2-5 start.

"Ted's a serious candidate," his agent, Joe Linta, said. "It's a real possibility he could get this."

The affable Cottrell has coached in the NFL for 22 seasons but has never been a head coach. He has been the defensive coordinator for the Vikings for the past two seasons, and has received votes of support from several players on the team, including cornerback Antoine Winfield and Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper.

Linta said his client spent several hours interviewing with owner Zygi Wilf and others and was "very happy with how they conducted the interview and very impressed with how committed they are to fixing the problems that went on there this season."

Wilf has said he wants to make a decision quickly to avoid losing a coveted candidate to one of the seven other teams looking for coaches.

The competition is heating up.

Childress flew to Green Bay on Jan. 4 to interview with the Packers, and Saunders is considered a candidate for other openings, including replacing the retired Dick Vermeil as head of the Chiefs.

The Vikings also have several other candidates, including New York Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis.

Ron Rivera, the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, has also been mentioned as a possibility. He said that he has a meeting scheduled with St. Louis and has been contacted by other teams, but would not name them.

Wilf has other needs as well. The Vikings want to hire football boss to oversee personnel and act as a general manager, working alongside salary cap guru and vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski.

Philadelphia's Tom Heckert was believed to be at the top of that list, but Heckert re-signed with the Eagles earlier this week, making the coaching opening a bigger priority.

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