Birk Moving to Left Tackle?

Are the Vikings posturing or serious about moving Matt Birk to left tackle?

Mike Tice is a non-nonsense guy when it comes to being put on the spot by a player. When Tyrone Carter insisted on move from free safety to strong safety, Tice agreed, but added that Carter "will have no excuse if he doesn't perform."

Similarly, Tice took a hard line toward free agent signings, offering a contract to more than one player for one defensive line position and telling both players the first one to sign gets the contract. He also gave Derrick Alexander an ultimatum to sign or the team would pursue other wide receivers like unsigned Antonio Freeman.

So it has gone in the Bryant McKinnie holdout, now in its 11th day. While the sides aren't that far apart in the big scheme of things -- between $1 million and $1.5 million difference over a six-year contract package -- the Vikings and Tice are drawing a hard line firmly in the sand and not backing off.

How serious are the Vikings? There has been talk circulating around Mankato that Pro Bowl center Matt Birk will be shifted to left tackle if the McKinnie matter isn't resolved quickly -- a public indication that the Vikings are willing to move on without McKinnie.

The same talk came up around draft time, when the Vikings, who weren't convined Mike Williams or McKinnie would still be on the board when they picked at No. 7, talked about shifting Birk to left tackle. At the time, many of us at VU speculated that the discussion was posturing, since the team would weaken itself by moving a Pro Bowler like Birk away from center to left tackle -- a position he hasn't played since his sophomore year at Harvard.

Is this talk to be believed? VU doesn't think so. We're hearing this may simply be a ploy to show McKinnie's agents that the team won't be held hostage by negotiation ploys. Could Birk actually move to left tackle? Yes. In fact, the timetable is to try to have him ready for the third preseason game vs. Tennessee, but will it happen? Probably not. The Vikings need Birk at center and need McKinnie at left tackle. It's time for both sides to blink, find a middle ground on their contract talks and get the haggling behind them before it causes more turmoil for the team.

* Willie Howard was taken off the physically unable to perform list and started taking part in team drills Monday. Howard is still recovering from a broken leg suffered last season.
* CB Brian Williams is expected to miss both Saturday's game vs. Cleveland and the game the following week at Buffalo with a hamstring injury.
* The Vikings are going to have CB Anthony Midget and former Viking guard Orlando Bobo in for workouts today. One or both could be signed as early as this afternoon.

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