The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 26, 2013

Frazier hopes players listen to alum Birk

By Chad Courrier
ccourrier@mankatofreepress.com

---- — MANKATO — Matt Birk has a shiny new Super Bowl ring from Baltimore and a long history of playing football with the Minnesota Vikings.

So when he talked with the Vikings' staff and players Thursday night, his message was to "seize this moment."

"He said you need to take advantage of the opportunity to play for the Minnesota Vikings," coach Leslie Frazier said Friday.

Frazier said he's asked Vikings' alums to adress the team before training camp in the past. In 2011, Jim Marshall spoke to the team, and last year, it was Matt Blair.

Center John Sullivan, who spent his rookie year as Birk's backup with the Vikings, said he was impressed by his former mentor's message.

"It means a lot coming from a guy who's had that kind of career," Sullivan said. "Won a Super Bowl, All-Pro ... he's achieved the ultimate goals.

"It's good for the young guys to hear him. It's great to have him back involved with the Vikings' organization."

Greenway on testing

The NFL and the players union are preparing to institute HGH testing around the league, and veteran linebacker Chad Greenway said the plans are still in their infancy. The league is supposed to take some blood samples over the next few weeks to establish a base from which to work.

"We're just kind of feeling our way around with it right now," he said. "The only thing I know for sure is that we will have to give a sample sometime during training camp."

Greenway said the samples are anonymous, and that he'll enter the system as just a number rather than under his name.

"I think they just want to establish the parameters," he said. "They want to see where our levels are at this point."

Sullivan ready

Frazier said that Sullivan should be full strength at practice after having offseason knee surgery. Frazier did not include Sullivan on the physically-unable-to-perform list, though Sullivan's practice reps will be monitored.

"The fact that he can participate and not just stand on the sidelines, it's good for our young players and our entire offensive line, so we can continue to build that cohesiveness you need to have a good offensive line," Frazier said.

Sullivan said he's going to do as much work as the team allows, helping to build on the continuity that the offense line developed last season.

"I'm going to work hard every day," he said. "If anybody is 100 percent when the season rolls around, I want to be one of them."

Jennings encouraged

New receiver Greg Jennings likes what he sees from the young receivers, mixing in nicely with the veterans. He has seen improvement from offseason practices to the first day of training camp.

On Friday, Joe Webb, who is making the transition from quarterback, made a nice catch on a deep pass, and former Minnesota State receiver Adam Thielen made a couple of nice catches in traffic. Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson also had a couple of tough catches, though Jennings wasn't surprised.

He said that Patterson has a great combination of size, speed and hands.

"I'm glad I'll be able to say one day that I played with Cordarrelle Patterson," he said.

Notes

Frazier said the receiver Greg Childs and linebacker Nathan Williams were put on the PUP list. Childs is coming back from double knee surgery, while Williams, a rookie from Ohio State, is recovering from ankle surgery. ... Desmond Bishop, Marvin Mitchell and Gerald Hodges are rotating at the strong-side linebacker spot. ... Frazier said he was teasing running back Adrian Peterson that he wasn't in as good shape as he was last year at this time. "He looked at me and goes `we'll see.' " ... Today's practices run from 10:30-11:30 a.m. (walk-through) and 2:30-4:45 p.m.. The players are off Sunday.