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Vikings plan to waive Underwood

Friends and family say religion may have played a role in the rookie's decision to leave camp.

Vikings officials said they will cut ties with first-round pick Dimitrius Underwood, who left camp after one practice and has not returned.

Vikings' attorneys informed Underwood's agent, Craig Domann, that the team doesn't want him back, according to the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. The newspaper said the Vikings haven't decided how to part ways with the rookie defensive lineman, but most likely they will place him on waivers.

Underwood signed a $5.3-million, six-year contract shortly before camp.

Meanwhile, Underwood's high school football coach said the player seemed anxious and less excited about becoming a Viking, according to a Star Tribune report.

The newspaper also reported religion might have played a role in Underwood's behavior. The 22-year-old repeatedly called his family's minister to talk about a deep religious experience he had had, the newspaper said.

About a month ago, Underwood began calling the Rev. Moses Townsend, his family's pastor, at the Fountain of Life Deliverance Church in Fayetteville, N.C.

"It seemed like he had become religious. He didn't want to talk about football," Townsend said. "He was just excited about his Christian experience and religious experience. He said the Lord was revealing some things to him."

Underwood called him twice a week for about three weeks and wanted Townsend to fly to Michigan to talk to him about his experiences. Townsend flew to Michigan Aug. 1 and arrived a few hours after Underwood arrived for the start of training camp.

Underwood had become a parishioner at Immanuel's Temple Community church, said its pastor, Phillip E. Owens.

Asked whether he had spoken to Underwood and whether Underwood was all right, Owens said: "I don't know if we can be at liberty (to say). The situation is a very delicate one now." Initially, Owens said Underwood "was under our care," but then said that only meant he was a parishioner.

Underwood's mother, Eileen Underwood, said she was uneasy.

"I just feel I need to examine what happened to some of his thinking," she said.

Eileen Underwood said she is concerned that someone in the church her son attended in Lansing tried to exert "undue influence on him" but she wouldn't elaborate or identify the person.