After getting bounced from the playoffs and seeing their season end on Sunday, players returned to the Vikings' Winter Park practice facility on Monday for a season-wrap meeting, a cleaning of the lockers and departing of the ways.
Most players will be back, but center Matt Birk, a free agent himself, figures the annual roster turnover rate to be about 30 percent.
One person who will return is head coach Brad Childress, said owner Zygi Wilf, who answered with three yeses when asked if Childress would be back. Wilf couldn't be as certain about the rest of the coaching staff.
"I couldn't say. Right now I know that the team is, as I am, ready to come back next year to defend the division championship and do better," Wilf said. "I think the experience of being in the playoffs is something to build upon and we look forward to it."
The early part of Childress' tenure was strained by what players perceived to be an unwillingness to listen to their advice. Childress has often talked about the volume of free advice he gets, but in an effort to take players' suggestions into account, he formed a players committee.
"I think the players committee, we certainly have our say at times," kicker Ryan Longwell said. "Whether he takes it or not is his choice, but the fact that he's willing to listen is certainly a step in the right direction."
Cornerback Antoine Winfield, whose relationship with Childress was strained early on, said things are progressing there.
"It definitely took a step in the right direction. You see the coaches down here (in the locker room) Friday eating with us. We're communicating well. I had a lot of fun with those guys also," Winfield said.
Childress isn't having his season-ending press conference until Thursday, so the fate of the coordinators and assistants isn't clear at this time. However, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is expected to interview for at least a couple of head-coaching opportunities this week.
Frazier addressed the defense on Monday.
"Whatever happens with him it'd be great," said defensive tackle Kevin Williams. "Hopefully he is up for some of those jobs (and) maybe he'll get one. But if not, hopefully he'll be back with the No. 1 defense and we've got to get better and improve."
If Frazier does leave, the defense would be left with its third coordinator in four years. Mike Tomlin was Childress' first hire as defensive coordinator in 2005, and he lasted only one year before being hired as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Frazier took over for Tomlin in 2007 and had interviews with the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons last offseason. In the last couple of weeks, his name has surfaced in conjunction with head-coaching opportunities in Detroit, St. Louis, Denver and the New York Jets.
THE INJURED SPEAK
While players are discouraged from talking about injuries during the season, that sentiment loosens up once the season is finished, and offensive lineman Artis Hicks confirmed a torn triceps and said it happened in the first game of the season and was re-injured in the Jacksonville game.
Hicks will have surgery in the Twin Cities this week and was told it would be a two- to three-month rehabilitation.
He endured the pain for much of the season and admitted he was basically just playing with one arm.
"Yeah I was, especially if you go back and look at that Detroit game. I mean, I did it again in the third quarter that game but I just told them, ‘The only way I'm coming out is if you drag me out or if I completely rupture the whole muscle.' There were times where I was one arm, but I covered it up pretty good. I never let the opposing guys see the pain on my face. I kind of masked it pretty good," Hicks said.
He said he didn't take any pain-killing injections but just used anti-inflammatory pills.
Hicks said once he is recovered, there isn't a greater chance to re-injure the triceps next season.
"We went through all of that with the team doctors here. They showed me the studies that were done with guys who have had this injury and went ahead and had the surgery," he said. "My chances of overcoming this and being 100 percent are very, very high. I'm very confident in the procedure and optimistic about it."
Meanwhile, defensive end Ray Edwards said he won't need surgery on a knee injury that kept him out of the Vikings' playoff loss to Philadelphia. He called it a "slight sprain."
Defensive tackle Pat Williams, who also missed the Philadelphia game and the final two games of the regular season with a fractured scapula, said he wouldn't require surgery either.
He was thought to be a question mark for the Philadelphia game, but he was ruled out early Sunday afternoon.
"I thought about it all week, prayed on it and all that stuff, but God told me not to do it so that's why I didn't play," said Williams, who said he was about 80 percent on Sunday. "It was kind of loud in there, so I didn't want to play bad because the fans were really into the game yesterday. So it was kind of disappointing."
Wide receiver Sidney Rice also admitted that a strained posterior cruciate ligament affected him most of the season, but he won't need surgery either.
Safety Darren Sharper, who suffered a high ankle sprain against the Eagles and had to leave the game after trying to play through it, will not need surgery. However, he said might not have been ready until the Super Bowl had the Vikings advanced in the playoffs.
VikingUpdate.com will have more extensive coverage from interviews throughout the week.
Notebook: Surgery, vote of confidence, etc.
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