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Birk has hip surgery, could miss three months

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (June 1, 2005) -- Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl center Matt Birk is expected to miss two to three months while recovering from hip surgery, but team officials are hopeful he will be back for the start of the regular season.

Birk underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip. Trainer Chuck Barta said Birk's recovery window is 60 to 90 days, which would get him back with time to spare before the Vikings open the regular season on Sept. 11.

This will be the fourth operation for Birk in the last year, with the other three repairing sports hernias. Barta said he thinks the labrum may have been torn while Birk was compensating for the hernia injuries.

The Vikings are not concerned that the rash of surgeries will have long-term implications for Birk, who has made the Pro Bowl four times.

"Anytime you go through surgery, it's not something you want to do, but the time of the year has made it to where now he can really fully rehab and take time so that when he comes back he should be fully recovered," offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Loney said. "None of the surgeries have been something that were considered to be career threatening or any of that stuff."

Backup center Cory Withrow will replace Birk. Withrow started five games at center last year while Birk battled hernia and ankle injuries.

Birk was not on the field as the Vikings opened their June developmental camp. Running back Moe Williams and receiver Kelly Campbell were also gone, but Loney said they were excused for personal reasons.

Cornerback Brian Williams, unhappy with losing his starting spot to free agent signee Fred Smoot, and safety Corey Chavous, who is unhappy with his contract, also did not show.

Birk participated in the team's first developmental camp last month as a pseudo-coach, helping younger players grasp the offense and blocking schemes. But Loney knows his veteran is itching to get out there with his teammates.

"He's such a competitor and he's such a leader of our team and it's frustrating to him to have to be leading and staying on the sidelines," Loney said.

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