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Hicks signs/UPDATE

March 4th, 2008 – 4:32 PM by Judd Zulgad

The Vikings website is reporting that free-agent running back and return man Maurice Hicks has been signed by the team. Hicks becomes the fourth free agent to sign with the team in the past week, joining safety Madieu Williams, fullback Thomas Tapeh and wide receiver Bernard Berrian. Hicks will take the place of Mewelde Moore, who signed with Pittsburgh on Monday. Here are Hicks’ career stats. He’s expected to take over as the Vikings’ primary kick returner.

UPDATE: Seifert here. Just got off the phone with Hicks. He said he was “shocked” when the Vikings expressed interest; he and his agent made clear he was looking for a team that would give him a chance to play on offense as well as on special teams. With RBs Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor already on the roster, Hicks admitted it was hard to imagine where he might fit in.

But Hicks said coaches discussed the possibility of serving as a third-down back and in other specific offensive situations. Although he hasn’t been an NFL workhorse in the backfield, rushing a grand total of 205 times in four seasons, he is no slouch, either. Hicks holds the NCAA Division II record with a 437-yard game while playing for North Carolina A&T.

“I wanted to find a place where I could be a returner but also play a role on the offense,” he said. “That was the key.”

That said, Hicks figures to be the leading candidate to return kickoffs. He hasn’t returned a punt in an NFL game, but that possibility can’t be ruled out. He has a 22.9-yard average on 185 kickoff returns in his career. 

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