Vikings Not Too Concerned By Injuries

The lingering injuries from the 2004 season will have the Vikings taking the minicamp practice field this weekend at less than full strength, but the Vikings don't appear too concerned by that with the regular season still more than four months away.

Vikings center Matt Birk revealed last week that he had his third hernia operation in seven months in March.

The Vikings kept the surgery quiet, but don't consider it career-threatening. They didn't adjust their draft board to reflect a need at center.

"Matt is going to be fine," said Rob Brzezinski, Vikings vice president of football operations. "We're expecting him to be ready to start this season."

Birk won't participate in the team's minicamp this weekend. He is doing only light lifting in the team's offseason strength and conditioning program.

Birk had surgery during the preseason last year and admitted that he rushed back so that he could start the season opener. A second hernia developed as a result and Birk played in pain until finally having to undergo a second surgery near the end of the season.

Backup Cory Withrow started five games for Birk, including one in which Birk missed because of a sprained ankle. Birk still was voted to his third Pro Bowl.

OT Mike Rosenthal, who is coming back from a broken foot suffered in Week 2, is expected to participate in a limited basis. Kevin Williams, hobbled by minor knee surgery, will not participate in the mini-camp this weekend. Receivers Nate Burleson (finger) and Marcus Robinson (cyst on knee) will not participate.

In other news, the Vikings' draft board did have to be tweaked somewhat last Wednesday when the Packers matched their one-year, $1.2 million offer sheet to restricted free agent defensive end Aaron Kampman. Kampman would have become the starter at left end.

Brzezinski said the Vikings expected the Packers to match the offer and were prepared well ahead of time. The Vikings selected Wisconsin defensive end Erasmus James with the 18th pick of the draft. James will compete for the starting left end position with second-year pro Darrion Scott.


NOTES

  • The Vikings had a sellout crowd of 3,800 in their indoor facility to watch the first day of the draft. Tickets were $15 for season ticket holders and $20 for the general public. Tice, who is being investigated by the NFL for ticket scalping, got a laugh when he addressed the crowd by saying, "Glad you all got tickets for this. I heard they were hard to come by."

  • Strong safety Corey Chavous said he still feels bad about his 2004 season and that he let down first-year defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell. After a Pro Bowl season in 2003, Chavous struggled in 2004 and missed the playoffs because of a fractured elbow. "I can see them upgrading at my position," Chavous said.

  • CB Brian Williams, who wasn't happy about the free-agent signing of CB Fred Smoot, still hasn't signed his one-year, $1.43 million tender from the Vikings. He is expected to sign it and attend mini-camp next weekend.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm sorry to hear that some of the people that don't put the time that we put into it are booing" - Tice, addressing a crowd of 3,800 fans at the team's draft day party after the Vikings selected South Carolina receiver Troy Williamson instead of the more popular receiver, Mike Williams of Southern California.




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