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Underwood plans return

Dimitrius Underwood said he will return to Minnesota Vikings training camp after spending the last week trying to decide between his love for football and his obligation to the ministry.

The team's first-round draft choice said he decided to return Monday after having a 75-minute phone conversation with former Green Bay Packer Reggie White, an ordained minister, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported.

Underwood said he would accept whatever consequences he might face.

The 22-year-old defensive end walked out of camp a week ago, leaving his family, his agent and team officials to speculate about his motive and whereabouts. The Star Tribune spoke with Underwood in a Philadelphia hotel lobby Sunday night while Vikings officials moved to cut ties with him.

"Deep down in my heart, I know I was not called to do that kind of work," Underwood said of the ministry. "But recently, in the last month, I feel the Lord's been pulling me there. And I know that that is a huge conflict of interest, because what am I going to do in order to support my family?"

Underwood has 16-month-old twins who live in Michigan with his former girlfriend. He also provides financial assistance to his mother, brother and sister in Philadelphia.

After his first practice in Mankato, Minn., Underwood flagged down a motorist who took him to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. He flew to Cleveland, where his new Lexus was parked. From there he headed to Philadelphia.

Underwood spent four nights in the Marriott Hotel, checking in under his middle name, Paul. But he ran short of cash and spent Saturday in his car. When interviewed, he had $8 in his pocket.

The six-year, $5.3-million contract he signed July 31 included a partly deferred $1.7-million bonus. The Vikings persuaded a judge to freeze $500,000. But part of the account remained liquid and Underwood said he took $1,500.

Underwood said there is "a real problem in his heart" about taking money he didn't earn, and he doesn't plan to take more money. The Vikings are trying to dispose of Underwood's contract altogether, according to several reports.

CHARGERS: San Diego re-signed unrestricted free-agent DB Greg Jackson. The team traded tight end John Burke to the Jets for a seventh-round draft pick in 2001 and re-signed QB Jeff Baker.

DOLPHINS: Running back J.J. Johnson, Miami's top draft pick, is expected to miss up to 10 days after straining his left hamstring in a weekend scrimmage against the Buccaneers. All-Pro linebacker Zach Thomas and wide receiver Yatil Green also sat out. Thomas still is recovering from a slight concussion, and Green's surgically repaired right knee remained sore. Both are day-to-day.

FALCONS: All-Pro running back Jamal Anderson, who has been holding out in a bid for a new contract, plans to meet today with coach Dan Reeves.

49ERS: The team has been notified it is scheduled to play in the 2000 Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, to coincide with the expected induction ceremonies of Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott. RB Lawrence Phillips has not practiced since Wednesday because of a sore right hamstring and is not expected to suit up against San Diego Thursday.

PANTHERS: The promising season of rookie CB Tony Booth ended with a knee injury that will require surgery and at least six months of rehabilitation.

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