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Vikings add Ball, Murray, release kicker Davis

September 24, 1997

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) _ The Minnesota Vikings are moving to solve two of their most glaring problems.

Hampered by a porous run defense and an inconsistent kicking game, the Vikings on Tuesday signed nose tackle Jerry Ball and kicker Eddie Murray, both former Pro Bowlers as teammates in Detroit.

Minnesota also released kicker Greg Davis, who missed twice at Chicago and from 22 yards in Sunday’s loss at Green Bay.

``I just wanted to be a part of an organization with the chemistry and the talent around to contend,″ Ball said after signing a two-year deal.

Ball was unsigned after last season, his third with the Raiders. He was one of the NFL’s best defensive tackles during his six seasons with the Lions (1987-92). He went to three Pro Bowls before playing one season in Cleveland and then joining the Raiders. He has 30 1/2 career sacks.

He had three sacks with Oakland last season as a backup to Chester McGlockton and Russell Maryland. The Vikings, who released 1996 second-round draft pick James Manley on Monday in anticipation of Ball’s signing, hope he will help their run defense improve from its current ranking of 26th in the NFL.

The 6-foot-1 Ball, who said at 335 pounds he is about five pounds over his ideal playing weight, will play in Sunday night’s game against Philadelphia. Jason Fisk will remain the starter at nose tackle, coach Dennis Green said.

``Not going through a training camp is kind of one of the downsides for me because you can get so much done in terms of timing and getting acclimated to the system,″ Ball said. ``I have to learn on the run in terms of conditioning and stuff. I think I can make a contribution here pretty soon.″

Murray, 41, holds the second-longest streak of extra-point conversions (228) in NFL history. He missed all of 1996 after hitting 27 of 36 field goal attempts with the Washington Redskins in 1995.

Like Ball, Murray started his NFL career with Detroit, playing there from 1980-91 and going to two Pro Bowls. He then played for five teams in the next four seasons before the Redskins cut him late in training camp last year.

Murray, who also will have to handle kickoffs until punter Mitch Berger is completely healed from a preseason hip injury, worked out Tuesday before signing for the rest of this season. He is uncertain whether his year-long layoff will affect his comeback.

``Hopefully it won’t,″ he said. ``Only time is going to tell. I kicked off well for being 41 years old. I’m not supposed to kick off like these other (younger) guys, but I was pretty pleased with how the workout went.″

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