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Vikings sign ex-Bills DT Williams

MINNEAPOLIS (March 3, 2005) -- The Minnesota Vikings wasted little time addressing their defensive needs, agreeing to terms with veteran defensive tackle Pat Williams late on March 2.

Williams agreed to a three-year deal.

Williams spent the first eight years of his career in Buffalo, where he became one of the NFL's best run-stoppers. He'll line up next to Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams to form a stout tandem up the middle for the Vikings, who ranked 21st against the run and 28th overall on defense last season.

Vikings coach Mike Tice said the biggest advantage to the signing is that it allows them to play Kevin Williams, who has emerged as a young star, exclusively at tackle rather than nose tackle, where he would be easily double-teamed.

"That makes us significantly better against the run," Tice said.

Pat Williams, who is listed at 315 pounds, adds some much-needed bulk to the Vikings' interior defense. He will be reunited with defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell. The two teamed to help the Bills become the top-ranked defense in the NFL in 1999 and No. 3 in 2000.

"It was a great signing," Tice said. "On first and second down, he is a beast against the run."

Williams entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 1997 out of Texas A&M and became a full-time starter in 2001. His best statistical season came in 2002, when he had 108 tackles, seven quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.

Barring any more free agent signings or draft picks, the Vikings will enter training camp with a defensive line of second-year ends Darrion Scott and Kenechi Udeze and Pat and Kevin Williams at the tackles, with Spencer Johnson as their primary backup.

"We've wanted to build our defense from the front back," Tice said. "We have a very formidable, athletic defensive front and it got better today."

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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