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Whitaker allegedly arrested by mistake

Minnesota Vikings cornerback Ronyell Whitaker was arrested early Thursday in Minneapolis, apparently by mistake, after a check of records revealed an outstanding warrant for misdemeanor drunken driving and careless driving charges.

Minnesota Vikings cornerback Ronyell Whitaker was arrested early Thursday in Minneapolis, apparently by mistake, after a check of records revealed an outstanding warrant for misdemeanor drunken driving and careless driving charges.

Whitaker's attorney, Joe Tamburino, told the Star Tribune the arrest was a mistake and that an apology had been made. Tamburino said Whitaker had been pulled over in September and passed a field sobriety test but was cited for reckless driving. Tamburino said he appeared in court on Whitaker's behalf and the ticket was paid.

But the matter didn't show up as resolved when police found Whitaker's car parked illegally in downtown Minneapolis. A check of his driver's license brought up the bench warrant, Minneapolis Police Lt. Amelia Huffman said.

Whitaker's agent, Brian Levy, told the Star Tribune that Whitaker had been at a club and a valet service parked the car.

Whitaker was released from jail early Thursday. Tamburino said his office then contacted the court.

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"I have the receipt that we paid the ticket," Tamburino said. "They apologized and said they didn't know why it was marked as a nonappearance by Ronyell. It's a total mistake."

Whitaker is the nephew of former boxing star Pernell Whitaker. The four-year NFL veteran played in all 16 games last season, appearing mostly in nickel and dime situations.

A new project

The newest Viking never has played organized football.

And Todd Lowber doesn't know the difference between a cover 1 and cover 2.

But the Vikings were among a handful of NFL teams willing to overlook such facts because of Lowber's potential to wreak havoc on those defensive schemes.

Although Lowber is the latest anonymous receiver to sign with the Vikings, agreeing Wednesday to a three-year contract that includes a modest signing bonus, his remarkable athleticism is reminiscent of another basketball player turned NFL player: San Diego Chargers all-pro tight end Antonio Gates.

Lowber, 6 feet 3 and 205 pounds, ran a sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash for the Vikings on Wednesday at Winter Park. He won the NCAA Division III high jump title in 2006 by clearing 7 feet for Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J. He also started 49 games for the Ramapo basketball team, averaging more than 12 points a game in two seasons and helping the team win its first New Jersey Athletic Conference title in 2005.

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"He's an amazing athlete," said Jim Garrett, a former NFL player, coach and scout who retired from the Dallas Cowboys in 2003. "You watch his tapes in basketball, and he hovers over the rim. Obviously, he's raw. But he's a special kid."

For eight months, Lowber has driven more than 45 minutes each way to work out with Garrett four or five days a week. He also has gladly soaked up Garrett's insights and critiques.

"It's been hard. It's taken a lot of sacrifices," said Lowber, who turned 25 earlier this year. "I never thought I had the ability I have. I was so tunnel-visioned on the NBA, I didn't realize I had talent in other sports.

"But I like competition, and the NFL is the ultimate competition."

Garrett said Lowber is a natural at catching the ball with his hands, noting his experience at running the point on the basketball court, and he said Lowber has dramatically improved as a route runner.

Each day, Garrett made Lowber run "The Tree," a progression of catches from 6-yard hitches to go routes. Garrett also had a quarterback fire balls at Lowber's face from 15 and 10 yards.

"I will tell you, he's a competitive guy," Garrett said.

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