Cory Withrow has wanted to be a starter in the National Football League, but not this way.
For the third straight day, Withrow was the center of the Minnesota Vikings' offensive line, filling in while Pro Bowler Matt Birk continues to have trouble with an abdominal injury.
"Matt and I have been together since I got here. I love the guy," Withrow said. "I pray for a quick recovery. He's the best center in the NFL, and I learn from him every day. I hope he recovers fast."
Birk underwent exploratory arthroscopic surgery Wednesday in the Twin Cities as doctors try to determine the source of pain in Birk's lower abdomen. He received an anti-inflammatory injection on Monday, but the pain persisted.
Birk suffered the injury a couple of weeks before training camp and was re-injured during sprints Saturday. He could miss up to three weeks of practice but is expected to be ready for the season-opener against Dallas on Sept. 12.
Withrow has stepped in for Birk, and after some struggles — once forgetting the quarterback was in the shotgun formation — the offense has performed well.
Coach Mike Tice said Wednesday's morning practice was the first time the offense outperformed the defense in a 9-on-7 drill.
"Cory has settled down and played pretty good football," Tice said.
"I've always felt he was one of, if not the best, backup center in the league."
The Vikings have used Lewis Kelly as the third-string center, and rookie guard Anthony Herrera worked there on Wednesday. The team had a tryout with Billy Conaty, an eight-year veteran who last played with Buffalo, but did not sign him.
* Tice said cornerbacks Reggie Austin and Markese Fitzgerald worked out Wednesday and would probably do so again Thursday, after which one of the two could be signed.
* Rookie receiver Lane Danielsen was elevated to the second unit on the depth chart, and he responded with a one-handed catch. Receivers Marcus Robinson and Keenan Howry missed some practice time with leg injuries.
Withrow Working Out Well
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