Birk Seeing Specialist

While the Vikings gained a linebacker and lost a linebacker in Monday morning's practice, they also lost a Pro Bowl center. Matt Birk was busy seeing a medical specialist.

Minnesota Vikings center Matt Birk had not missed a training camp practice since he was drafted in 1998, but that Iron Man streak
ended Monday.

The Pro Bowl center missed the morning practice while seeing a specialist in the Twin Cities. Birk has been bothered by a lower abdomen injury, which the Vikings feared might be a sports hernia.

Birk originally suffered the injury two weeks ago while working out,
then felt a twinge during Saturday's sprints. While favoring the injury, Birk strained his groin muscle.

"We didn't want to make it worse," Vikings head coach Mike Tice said.

Tice said that Birk will be treated with inflammatory drugs and could resume practicing Tuesday.

The longest current streak of training camp practices now belongs to Randy Moss, who also started in 1998.

DT AT LB
Second-round draft pick Dontarrious Thomas went through his first practice Monday, participating in about half of the workout. Thomas, a linebacker from Auburn, signed his contract Sunday night, missing just four practices and two days' worth of meetings.

"It was fun to be back out there," Thomas said.

Thomas is expected to push for a starting role at weakside linebacker, where third-year player Raonall Smith took most of the snaps Monday.

Mike Nattiel missed the practice with a sprained ankle, the same one he injured in minicamp. Tice said that Nattiel might be ready to practice Tuesday.

"(Thomas is) fast, he's explosive, he's quick, everything we expected," Tice said.

Tice said that Thomas had a stiff hip and was held out of some of the later drills.

CONTACTING BROCK
Defensive tackle Brock Lesnar, the former professional wrestling celebrity, was thrown into the contact drills, in part to measure his progress and also to give other linemen a break.

He made a tackle, but he looked overmatched on other plays.

"He got his first kiss (tackle)," Tice said. "He grew up some. He's been working hard, and I thought it was important for him to get a little taste today."





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