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Tice: No limit on plays in Moss' return

Associated Press

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota receiver Randy Moss may be approaching his All-Pro form a little sooner than expected.

Earlier this week, Vikings coach Mike Tice said that Moss, who has missed three straight games with a partially torn right hamstring, would be held to 25 plays in Sunday's game against the Jaguars. But Moss' progress in practice this week prompted Tice to retract that statement Friday, saying that Moss won't be limited by any artificial play count.

"The only thing that's holding him back is endurance in his legs -- and not necessarily (from) the injury," Tice said. "He feels like he has training camp legs now (because) he hasn't done anything in five weeks.

"He worked extremely hard Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Now, he's going to stretch and get himself feeling as good as he can feel by Sunday."

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Moss participated in walkthrough Friday but did not practice. That's his usual Friday routine, even when he's healthy. He remained questionable on the injury report.

Trainers carefully monitored Moss' status throughout the week, while offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and receivers coach Charlie Baggett devised a game plan they believe will make Moss a threat on Sunday.

Birk out a month: Minnesota Vikings center Matt Birk will miss at least four games after undergoing sports hernia surgery Friday for the second time in four months.

Birk, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, had been playing in extreme pain for several weeks. Team doctors initially scheduled surgery for Monday, but Vikings coach Mike Tice pushed for an earlier date after reviewing Birk's performance in recent weeks.

"His body's shutting down," Tice said. "His whole (lower abdomen) is shutting down. He can't change directions, he can't run, he can't do anything."

Birk, who missed three preseason games after undergoing the same procedure Aug. 4, should be ready for the Vikings' game Dec. 24 against Green Bay, Tice said.

Backup Cory Withrow will start in Birk's absence.

FREROTTE Ill:Backup quarterback Gus Frerotte missed practice Friday morning after falling ill with a stomach virus. Team doctors believe he simply has the flu. Frerotte is listed as probable.

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