For the 1st time in over a decade, Matt Birk won’t be strolling through the front doors of Gage Hall to check into another Vikings training camp. The longtime Viking was a free agent this past offseason and signed with Baltimore.
But Birk’s good buddy, OG Steve Hutchinson, is still here and, in fact, arrived at training camp early Wednesday evening. And he was sporting a thicker-than-usual beard (asked when he started growing the beard, Hutchinson comically responded “last night.”)
With Birk gone, Hutchinson becomes the most veteran member of the Vikings offensive line, with 8 seasons under his belt. As the veteran most lineman, Hutchinson will be relied upon as a leader at his position. This is an important role for the 6-time Pro Bowler because the offensive line will be in transition during training camp, as they break in a new center (John Sullivan) and entertain what will be a fierce position battle at RT between 2009 2nd round draft pick Phil Loadholt and incumbent starter Ryan Cook.
Going a step further, Hutchinson is also looked upon as a leader of the entire football team. He was a team captain last year and most likely will be again in 2009. So, as would happen to any team leader, Hutchinson was asked immediately upon his arrival about the most-talked about subject surrounding the Vikings – Brett Favre.
Hutchinson’s response was similar to what we’ve heard from head coach Brad Childress – that the opportunity to pursue a player like Brett Favre was unique and that any time you can improve your roster, you do it.
But Hutchinson also made an interesting comment on the matter, saying that he didn’t blame Favre for his decision and even acknowledging that he knows one day he might be in the same position.
“It’s a position I’m probably going to have to be in one day,” Hutchinson said. “Whether to continue playing or retire. It’s hard. For a guy like that, and all he’s done for this game, it’s probably hard for him on his own to walk away, so you’ve got to respect him.”
The reaction we’ll hear from many Vikings players and coaches will be on message, just as any sound organization would have it. So an interesting perspective, such as the one Hutchinson offered about some day being in a similar position as Favre, was interesting and definitely worth noting here.
Tags: Steve Hutchinson
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