Bennett Has Surgery

The Vikings are left in a month-long holding pattern to learn if Michael Bennett's foot procedure will keep him out half or all of 2003.

On Thursday, VU was told by a source close to the Michael Bennett situation that his surgery in Charlotte, N.C., was "a success."

When asked to define "success," all we were told was the nothing went wrong with the procedure to take bone marrow from Bennett's hip and insert it into his ailing foot. When asked if "success" meant "successful," we got a non-answer.

The truth is that Bennett's procedure was seen as an option only because the other option was another surgery and a guaranteed loss of all of '03. If the procedure works, Bennett may be back by mid- to late-October at the earliest.

From what we're hearing, the Vikes are prepared to move on as if Bennett will be lost for the year -- any time he sees at this point is being viewed as a positive.

As it stands, Bennett's foot will be immobilized in a cast for a month. When the cast comes off, rehab will begin. If no significant improvement is seen, he will have a second surgery ASAP to start the final healing process and have him ready for minicamp 2004.

While we're being told the team is publicly holding out hope, there is more concern that is being let out and the prevailing fear is that Bennett will likely be lost for the entire season.

* VU has been told that the Vikings weren't shocked about the announcement that Byron Chamberlain was suspended for four games. In fact, we've been told the team knew as early as the May minicamps that Chamberlain had tested positive and that an announcement would eventually be made. That might explain the number of tight ends the team took a look at signing following the draft.
* VU has been told an announcement could be made as early as today on the signing of WR Nate Burleson. What hasn't been clear is the length of the contract. One source says it would be a three-year deal, which really doesn't make sense, because Burleson would be a restricted free agent and, if the team is confident he can be a steady performer, a three-year deal could leave the team in a bind. The other source says the two sides are working on a four-year deal. Either way, it looks like Burleson will be signed well in advance of camp opening, which is good news regardless of contract terms.

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