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L.T. touches down in Minnesota, opens free-agent visit with Vikings

LaDainian Tomlinson is in Minnesota for a visit, and the Vikings believe the running back could be a good fit.

Tomlinson had dinner with team officials Wednesday night, a league source told NFL Network's Jason La Canfora, and he was scheduled to meet with coach Brad Childress and other members of the organization Thursday. The 2006 NFL MVP was released by the San Diego Chargers last month after the least-productive season of his prolific nine-year NFL career.

The Vikings are looking for another running back after Chester Taylor signed with the Chicago Bears on Friday, the first day of free agency. They might have to move fast on Tomlinson, who has a Friday visit scheduled with the New York Jets, a source with knowledge of the situation told La Canfora.

Childress said of Tomlinson on Wednesday that he wants "to see where his mind is at." Childress said he assumes the 30-year-old running back realizes he'd have to accept a reduced role as a backup to All-Pro Adrian Peterson.

"I would think he knows that, but I always want to over-communicate clarity so we won't hopscotch around that," Childress said. "We'll have to show him what his role will be."

The coach said he had a "great conversation" with Tomlinson on the phone Tuesday.

"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,'" Childress said, referring to the Metrodome. "But that's why we've got a roof on the place."

Typical for an oft-used NFL running back his age, Tomlinson has been on the decline since totaling more than 2,300 yards from scrimmage and 31 touchdowns during his MVP season of 2006. Last season was the first time since he was drafted fifth overall by the Chargers in 2001 that he didn't reach 1,000 rushing yards.

Tomlinson had 12 touchdowns and 730 yards on 223 carries for a paltry 3.3-yard average in 2009. However, his experience, sure hands and usefulness in the passing game are important parts of the job description. Peterson, who turns 25 later this month, has had a problem with fumbling and frequently was replaced by Taylor on third downs.

Childress dismissed the notion of Tomlinson as a possible tutor for Peterson.

"That's not in the equation," the coach said. "We're kind of measuring him more as a football player and as a person, as a man, as a competitor -- and how much he has left to be able to contribute to this team."

Tomlinson's agent, Tom Condon, declined to comment about any visits with other teams.

At his farewell to San Diego news conference last month, Tomlinson said he believes he can play for as many as four more seasons. He ranks eighth on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 12,490 yards. His 138 career rushing touchdowns rank second.

Tomlinson doesn't have a Super Bowl ring -- a goal the Vikings came close to reaching themselves last season before an overtime loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game.

"You don't really want to go somewhere and get your brains beat out," Childress said. "You want to go and have a chance to win and compete and win that ultimate prize."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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