Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Midday report: Matt Birk checks in with inspiring words for Vikings

Posted by: Updated: July 26, 2013 - 1:16 PM

The Vikings have completed their Friday morning workout and Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato and afterwards, head coach Leslie Frazier and a handful of players stopped to speak with the media. Here’s your quick midday update.

‘Seize the moment’

Retired center Matt Birk, a Viking from 1998-2008, popped through camp on Thursday evening to speak to the team. Birk, who finished his career with a Super Bowl triumph with the Ravens last February, reminded the current Vikings to seize the moment in an address that several folks throughout the organization said packed quite a punch.

Leslie Frazier’s takeaway: “I’m hoping that our players will think about the fact of how important this moment is, that you can’t be looking to next year and you can’t be looking back at the past. But being able to seize this moment and the work that’s involved with coming together as a football team. He really stressed that point.

"With some of the ups and downs that they had a year ago in Baltimore and yet their team really stuck together, especially late in the season when they made the coaching change on offense [to replace offensive coordinator Cam Cameron with Jim Caldwell].  So that part of it, being able to stay together as a team through some of the highs and lows of an NFL season and then seizing this moment.”

Birk told Vikings.com that he was invited to camp by Frazier last month and couldn’t say no.

“What a great honor,” he said. “I think so highly of Coach Frazier and what he’s doing here and the program he runs. And obviously I have an affinity for the Vikings organization. So I thought, man, this is a great honor for me. And it’s also a lot of fun because I do get to come down here and have a lot of laughs and reconnect with a lot of people and I don’t have to practice.”

As for soaking in that Super Bowl triumph, Birk seems thrilled to have finished his career on such a high note.

“When I look back and try to put it in perspective, I’m just thankful to have been on a team like that with the type of men that we had." he said. "We have a special bond and it was a special group of guys. And the fact that we won that Super Bowl, now we’ll be linked together forever. And every 5-10 years, we’ll have reunions and get together and drink beer and talk about how good we were.”

Childs starts on PUP

Two Vikings will open camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Wide receiver Greg Childs will start there as expected, still not fully recovered from the severe injuries he suffered in both knees during last year’s training camp. Nathan Williams, an undrafted rookie linebacker from Ohio State, will also start on the PUP list, not yet ready to return to practice after having ankle surgery this spring.

Frazier offered no definitive timetable for how things with Childs would unfold this preseason.

“I think we’ll have to wait and see and see how he progresses over the next few days and weeks. It’s probably a little too early now to pinpoint what the final outcome’s going to be or when we might take him off of PUP. We’ll just have to kind of check back periodically.”

Adjustment period

On Thursday, Frazier told reporters that Desmond Bishop would start his tenure with the Vikings as an outside linebacker. This morning, Frazier said the coaching staff was not quote yet ready to solidify Bishop as their weakside starter. So when the team’s first camp practice begins this afternoon, Bishop will be in a rotation with Marvin Mitchell and Gerald Hodges.

It’s no surprise that Bishop will be eased into things. His head will likely be spinning early in camp as he adjusts to new teammates, a new scheme and a new way of doing things. Bishop, who turned 29 Wednesday, didn’t join the Vikings until late June, after the team’s entire offseason program was complete. So there will be a lot coming at him in Mankato.

“He’s going to have to get acclimated to the way we do things, his new teammates, this environment, a new system and just finding his way," Frazier said. "There are a lot of challenges for him with the fact that he missed an entire offseason. And then you combine that with the fact that he didn’t play at all, still recovering from an injury [torn hamstring]. He’s still gaining his confidence physically. So there are a lot of factors that will go into how fast he comes along.

"But he seems to be a very bright guy, a very mature guy. So I think those things will come. But there’s a process he has to go through.”

Frazier was also asked whether he envisioned a scenario where Bishop would eventually transition inside during the season to take the middle linebacker role that Erin Henderson is currently holding.

“It’s hard to project that at this point,” he said. “We’re hoping Erin is going to do a great job for us at the MIKE linebacker position and that Desmond will do a good a job as an outside linebacker for us. And we’ll go through this process and see how it all plays out.”

Coming clean 

We’ll leave you with some final words on Adrian Peterson, who was very candid when asked about the push to implement HGH testing across the NFL.

"People have [accused me of taking HGH],” Peterson said. “But it is what it is. It's part of life. People are going to think one thing or another no matter what you tell them. I really don't listen to it. I let them have their opinion. I really don't care, to be honest. Because I'm true to myself and I know that I have a lot of respect for this game and the guys that came before me and did it the right way. That's what I'm all about."
 
 

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