Some Star Power Missing at OTAs

The Vikings had a few veteran starters missing at Monday and Tuesday's organized team activities (OTAs), including Pro Bowl center Matt Birk.

Matt Birk has kept his word about skipping the Vikings' voluntary workouts. As Monday and Tuesday's first organized team activity sessions took place, Birk was a no-show, holding out to work on his own while also hoping for a contract extension.

Birk is in the final year of his current contract and said earlier this year that he would not take part in the voluntary portions of the team's offseason workout sessions. Birk is expected to attend the portions of the offseason program that are mandatory – the June 6-8 minicamp will be the first test of that.

Birk is in the final year of his contract and is set to make a base salary of $5.3 million. The Vikings have given contract extensions to several of their key veterans in the last couple of years, including Kevin Williams, Pat Williams, Bryant McKinnie and E.J. Henderson. But, to date, there have been no contract talks with Birk. If anything, the Vikings have shown a willingness to go the other way – last month the team drafted center John Sullivan, viewed as one of the top centers in the Class of 2008.

Birk has been working out on his own with former Viking Mike Morris, who conducts a weight training program that includes about 20 clients and area athletes.

Birk is expected to attend the team's minicamp in two weeks, but that will likely be the only time he's at Winter Park before training camp opens at the end of July. As of now, neither side has blinked and it doesn't look like either side intends to now.


  • Left tackle Bryant McKinnie was also absent from OTAs on Tuesday while attending a hearing for his alleged involvement in a fight outside a Miami nightclub in February.
  • Chester Taylor was also a no-show Monday and Tuesday attending to family matters, but also has a history of working out on his own during the offseason and there shouldn't be too much made of that decision. He did the same last year and missed the OTAs, which some construed initially as displeasure with the drafting of Adrian Peterson, but was part of Taylor's offseason ritual.

  • In a move that could have a big impact on the sport, the NFL owners voted this morning to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement. In a sign of solidarity, the vote was unanimous. Unless a new deal can be structured – it's unlikely the players will accept less than they are currently getting – the 2009 season would be the last one with the current salary cap structure, the 2010 season would be uncapped and a lockout could happen in 2011. The owners contend that the 60 percent revenue sharing with the players doesn't take into account the costs of building and maintaining stadiums or situations like the Falcons have with Michael Vick, who gets to keep $16 million in signing bonus money despite being in federal prison at Leavenworth for dog fighting. This could be the first dark cloud on the horizon that could point to a lockout in 2011.

  • Former Viking and pro wrestler Brock Lesnar will headline an Ultimate Fighting Challenge card Aug. 9 in Minneapolis. The show, UFC 87, will be held at Target Center and Lesnar will fight former UFC champion Mark Coleman. It will be only Lesnar's third mixed martial arts fight. Lesnar has a career record of 1-1, having tapped out in the first round in his most recent bout – a loss to former UFC champion Frank Mir in February.

  • After standing behind troubled linebacker Odell Thurman for two years while he was under suspension, Cincinnati released the linebacker Monday. It will be interesting to see if any teams are willing to take a chance of the fallen star.

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