He Made the Difference
Matt Birk Had Hernia Surgery this Week
SURE, he's gonna be ready for Glover on opening day.
Posted on Thu, Aug. 05, 2004
Birk on mend after surgery
BY BILL WILLIAMSON
MANKATO, Minn. — Matt Birk barely could keep his eyes open because of the painkillers, and he grimaced when he laughed. Despite the temporary discomfort, the Vikings' Pro Bowl center finally can sleep in peace.
The mystery of the past four days is over, has been addressed and he's on the mend.
"I can put this all behind me now," Birk said Wednesday, hours after having successful surgery for a sports hernia. "No more sleepless nights. … But at least I know what it is, and I'll be ready for the season."
The team decided Tuesday that Birk should have surgery after unsuccessfully treating the injury since Saturday. The outpatient procedure, done in the Twin Cities on Wednesday morning, confirmed that the ailment was a sports hernia. There is hope he can be ready to play San Francisco in the third exhibition game Aug. 27 or in the exhibtion finale Sept. 2 at Seattle.
Birk has been assured he'll be ready to play in the regular-season opener against Dallas on Sept. 12 at the Metrodome. Until then, backup Cory Withrow will start in Birk's place.
"The entire plan is to be ready for the season," Birk said. "It would be nice to play (at least one exhibition game) though. We'll have to wait and see."
Birk will be able to do some light workouts, such as hand and foot work exercises, while he's sidelined.
"This is not a long-term thing," coach Mike Tice said. "He'll be out a few weeks, but he'll be back for the season. In the meantime, Cory will do a good job."
Roster talk: The Vikings are toying with the idea of claiming former Dallas quarterback Quincy Carter off waivers. However, the Vikings see him as a third quarterback behind Daunte Culpepper and Gus Frerotte, so it is unlikely a claim would be made.
Meanwhile, the Vikings are expected to sign free-agent center Billy Conaty today to play behind Withrow. The eight-year veteran worked out Wednesday. The Vikings also want to sign cornerback Reggie Austin today despite a knee injury. If the team passes on Austin, Markese Fitzgerald could be signed to compete for the fifth cornerback job. Fitzgerald also worked out Wednesday. The Vikings are hoping to work out free-agent receivers Tony Johnson, Kevin Wolcott and Chris Collins today.
Injury report: Sixth receiver Kenny Clark had a magnetic resonance imaging exam performed on his back. Backup offensive lineman Lewis Kelly missed the afternoon practice with a mild concussion, and weak-side linebacker Mike Nattiel's ankle injury has him sidelined for another day or two. Rookie linebacker Grant Wiley suffered a sprained shoulder in the morning and may go on injured reserve.
They also signed this clown
Posted on Fri, Aug. 06, 2004
Man in the middle
The Vikings believe well-traveled defensive tackle Steve Martin, a St. Paul native, can help bolster the team's run defense.
BY GREG JOHNSON
MANKATO, Minn. — Steve Martin is your basic NFL nomad. The Vikings defensive tackle is playing for his fifth team in five seasons, and seventh in a nine-year career.
He hopes he has finally found some stability.
Martin, 30, was born in St. Paul and lived in the Twin Cities through the eighth grade. He has tried to become a member of his hometown team in the past, but it was not meant to be. Until now.
"It's part of my journey, and one of my stops,'' said Martin, whose mother, Dorothy, and sister Cindy live in St. Paul. "Every year I've been a free agent, I've tried to get here. It's just never been the right time. For me to get here is pretty much a dream come true. I wish it would've happen earlier, but I think everything happens for the right times and right reasons.''
A big part of the scenario was the offseason hiring of Ted Cottrell as defensive coordinator. In 2001, Martin played for the New York Jets, starting a career-high 15 times at nose tackle for a unit that was run by Cottrell.
His 6-foot-4, 322-pound size in the middle of the line already has been noticed in training camp. On Sunday, Martin took a good-natured dig at coach Mike Tice, who had proclaimed in a meeting that a counter play up the middle would gain big yardage for the offense.
Martin told Tice the play would work against Vikings' opponents, but it wouldn't work in practice against him and his teammates. Martin stuffed running back Onterrio Smith for a 2-yard gain, and then pointed at the Vikings coach to make sure he saw it.
It's the kind of bravado Tice likes to see. Martin also has a running trash-talk feud with wide receiver Randy Moss, which adds to the competitiveness in camp.
"Steve has already been a big plus for us,'' Tice said. "He gives us something that we haven't had here, and that's a big guy to put in the middle.''
No one is quite sure why Martin hasn't stuck with one team. He began his career with Indianapolis (1996-98) and made stops with Philadelphia (1998-99), Kansas City (2000), the Jets (2001), New England (2002) and Houston (2003).
He is expected to complement first-round draft picks Chris Hovan and Kevin Williams by stuffing the run. The Vikings gave up 4.9 yards per rush last season, and improving that is a large part of Cottrell's task.
"Steve brings a little something different to the table than Chris Hovan and Kevin Williams do,'' defensive line coach Brian Baker said. "The other two are more explosion than strength. Steve is more strength than explosion. He's big and strong enough to be a true anchor. We have not had an anchor around here since I've been here.''
The Vikings are convinced Martin will plug the middle in run situations. The Vikings led the NFL in rushing in 2002 and were fourth last season, but rushing has been tough in practice.
"There is no question in my mind that this is one of the best offensive lines in the league," Martin said. "If we can beat these guys, we should be able to roll over everyone else.''
Rotating defensive linemen during the course of a game came into vogue in the early 1990s, and the Vikings feel they have an answer for every occasion.
"Chris Hovan and Kevin Williams have the unique ability to rush on the inside,'' Martin said. "They are very powerful guys who are agile enough to penetrate the line of scrimmage. With those guys knifing up the field and me holding down the point, it gives the ability to swing from a solid run defense to a heavy pass rush defense. We get the best of both worlds here.''
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Last edited by LaTunaNostra : 08-06-2004 at 09:38 PM.