Published August 13, 2006 01:00 am

Adam Goldberg was trying to keep his birthday a secret, but he was worried that somebody must have found out.

[size=18pt]Vikings notebok: Goldberg hush about birthday
Smoot’s neck OK[/size]


By Chad Courrier
The Free Press


MANKATO —
Adam Goldberg was trying to keep his birthday a secret, but he was worried that somebody must have found out.

“There were a lot of weird smiles,” he said.

Goldberg, a fourth-year offensive lineman, turned 26 on Saturday, and he was concerned with what his teammates might have planned for later in the day.

Ten days ago, the linemen celebrated Chris Liwienski’s birthday with a night out for pizza, and he’s hoping that he gets a similar, nonthreatening present.

“As a rookie, I never said anything because I didn’t want to give anybody any extra reason to get me,” Goldberg said.

In college, his wife Brittany brought a cake to practice that fed all of his teammates, but he’s realized that when you play football and your birthday is in August, you usually have to celebrate on another day.

“I just want to enjoy the day by having another good practice at training camp,” he said.


Smoot out, then in

Cornerback Fred Smoot did not participate in Saturday morning practice after suffering a slight neck injury on Friday.

Coach Brad Childress said that during a one-on-one passing drill, Smoot ran into a receiver and injured his neck, and there was some irritation in the area Saturday morning.

“I think he’ll be OK,” Childress said. “You always err on the side of caution with neck injuries.”

Childress compared the injury to one that kept receiver Marcus Robinson out of practice for two days earlier this week. Smoot didn’t acknowledge where he was injured, saying only “I’m good.”

Smoot returned for the noncontact afternoon practice, making a nice interception during the seven-on-seven drill. He stepped in front of a short out pattern and picked off Mike McMahon’s pass for what would have been a touchdown.

Childress said a decision on Smoot’s availability for Monday’s preseason game against Oakland will be determined later Saturday. Dovonte Edwards filled in for Smoot on Saturday and will start Monday if Smoot doesn’t.


Join the club

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie took the practice field Saturday morning with his fractured left hand bandaged heavily, looking like a big beehive about three times the size of his hand. In the afternoon, the club appeared even bigger.

McKinnie said the training staff is experimenting with different soft cast to protect the injury, and he’s not sure what he’ll wear in games.

“It’s heavy, I get tired of carrying it around,” McKinnie said. “I’ll get used to it.”

Childress said that he’s not concerned with McKinnie’s ability to play with the cast, something that several players have worn during games.

“You know you can’t hold in this game,” Childress quipped.


Fason is back

Running back Ciatrick Fason was back in the goal-line drills, banging into defensive players just three days after suffering the first concussion of his career during a similar drill. On Wednesday, Fason had just taken the handoff when defensive end Erasmus James busted up the play and made helmet-to-helmet contact with Fason.

“Usually when I get hit hard, I bounce right back up,” Fason said. “I’m still going to pound it in there because when you have fear, bad things happen.”


Autograph milestone

Childress pronounced the new Autograph Zone a success during camp, and that more than 10,000 autographs have been signed since Aug. 1. Each day, a specific position group spends 20 minutes after the morning practice signing autographs for people who have gone through a maze of lines. Each person is nearly guaranteed one autograph, and depending on the length of the lines, there might be more opportunities.

Fans can also try to get autographs on their own by lining up at fences near the locker room.

“The guys have done a great job, and I think the fans have enjoyed and appreciated it,” Childress said. “I’m happy with the results, and our players have kind of enjoyed doing it.”


New look for Greenway

During a practice period in which the offense was backed up against its goal line, the defense showed a four linebacker look that included starters E.J. Henderson, Napoleon Harris and Ben Leber, along with rookie Chad Greenway.

Childress said that defense was a special package to counter a three-tight-end look by the offense in goal-line or short-yardage situations. When asked if he’d like to see that defensive scheme used more often, Childress said, “As long as they don’t have four receivers on the field.”


Notes

Receivers Ryan Hoag, Jason Carter and Aaron Hosack each made a long reception Saturday, and Childress said all three will get plenty of opportunity in Monday’s game. “We’ll see if one of them distinguishes himself,” Childress said. ... Receiver Koren Robinson

hasn’t taken many turns at returning kickoffs during recent practices, and Childress doesn’t expect that to change during the preseason as he looks at other options. “You know Koren can do it at a Pro Bowl level,” Childress said.


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