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On road to recovery from leukemia, Vikes' Udeze happy to be on the field

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- While most veterans aren't exactly eager to take the field for mandatory minicamps in May, Kenechi Udeze couldn't be happier.

One year removed from a bone-marrow transplant to fight leukemia, the Minnesota Vikings defensive end was all smiles while working through drills with Jared Allen, Pat and Kevin Williams and the rest of the defensive line.

Career Statistics
G/GS: 51/47

Tackles: 117

Sacks: 11

"It feels really good, just more or less being around the fellas again," Udeze said on Friday. "I still have a couple things I need to work out amongst my own body, but for the most part I'm feeling pretty good."

Udeze missed all of last season while going through treatment for the disease. His brother was a perfect match as a bone-marrow donor, and Udeze has been wowing those around him with his ability to recover from a traumatic ordeal.

"It's awesome," Allen said. "It's just an inspiration to everybody. Any time anybody can survive that, let alone still play ball, is awesome."

Udeze said he still has a long way to go to get back to the condition he was in before he was diagnosed with the disease in February 2008. But he sure is happy that the remaining steps down his road to recovery will be taken on the football field.

He vowed to be 100 percent ready to go by training camp and thanked the Vikings organization for its support.

"I've been training for this my whole life," Udeze said. "I'm doing good. I'm really feeling great about everything and like I said, it's just great to be back out here with the fellas."

Coach Brad Childress said the feeling was mutual.

"It's just great to see his smiling face," he said.

Wildcat in Minnesota

One of the highlights of the Vikings' minicamp has been the use of the so-called "Wildcat" formation in some offensive drills.

The Miami Dolphins started the trend last season with the offensive look that begins with a direct snap to a running back. It wasn't used in Minnesota, but this year could be different.

First-round draft pick Percy Harvin is a wide receiver, but he has plenty of experience in the ground game, too, after a standout college career at Florida.

The Vikings were using Harvin, running back Chester Taylor and wide receiver Darius Reynaud in different plays behind center as they experimented with the trick formation in Saturday's practice.

Friday marked Harvin's first full-team workout as a professional, and the rookie receiver gave a nice first impression.

The first-round pick caught several deep balls, including one of about 40 yards from quarterback Tarvaris Jackson during a passing drill. He got plenty of work on offense and in the return game, displaying the speed and athleticism that prompted the Vikings to grab him with the 22nd overall pick.

"We were talking about (Adrian Peterson's) first year and everybody was throwing the word around 'explosive,'" linebacker Ben Leber said. "I think it's the same thing you can say about Percy. He's explosive. You definitely want to get the ball in his hands."

Favre update

Childress was asked about any developments on the Brett Favre front.

The Vikings have acknowledged interest in the retired quarterback, but it is still unclear if Favre is healthy enough or has the desire to come out of retirement for the second straight offseason.

For now, Favre remains retired.

"Nothing has changed," Childress said.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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