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Birk willing to take risk, but not Vikings

Associated Press

Matt Birk was willing to trade a risk for a risk. He would try to play with “excruciating” pain in his hip this season if the Minnesota Vikings guaranteed he’d be paid next year.

The Vikings declined the unique request, so the four-time Pro Bowl center will undergo his fifth surgery in a little more than a year and could miss three months.

Birk’s agent, Joe Linta, said his client will have the surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.

Birk had been cleared to play with painkilling injections, but asked the Vikings to guarantee his nearly $4 million salary for 2006 in exchange for him chancing long-term damage to his body and his career by playing through it.

“They’ve turned down all our proposals,” Linta told The Associated Press. “For Matt, it’s probably the best thing. I just feel like the Vikings are making a big mistake. The risk is so minimal for them.”

At the earliest, Birk would be ready to return by mid-November. But that would mean the Vikings would have to carry him on their active roster until that point. If he is placed on injured reserve, Birk would miss the entire season.

Falcons rolls over Jaguars

Michael Jenkins caught four passes for 35 yards and scored twice, helping the Falcons beat the host Jacksonville Jaguars 23-7 in a rain-drenched, penalty-filled preseason game.

Fred Taylor ran four times for 18 yards in his preseason debut for the Jaguars (2-1) and showed signs of being able to recover from knee surgery. But Atlanta looked primed for another run at the NFC championship game. The Falcons (3-1) moved the ball with ease against Jacksonville’s vaunted defense and scored on three of their first four possessions.

Niners in first game since death

A black, football-shaped decal featuring Thomas Herrion’s No. 72 will be on the back of the 49ers’ helmets. The offensive lineman will be honored with words and pictures in a tribute before today’s preseason game against Tennessee in San Francisco.

Then the 49ers will try to get back to the suddenly trivial business of earning an NFL roster spot.

Just six days after Herrion’s locker-room collapse and death following a game in Denver, the 49ers will be back in action in the relentless NFL preseason. Jonas Jennings is among the 49ers who would have preferred to wait a bit longer, but the left tackle knows his teammates must move on.

“We’ve just got to keep it simple and go out there, no matter how we feel,” Jennings said. “We’re going to think about him before the game, but you can’t be thinking about anything else once the game starts, because that’s how you get hurt.”

Around the league

The New England Patriots released safety Antuan Edwards after signing him as a veteran free agent in early June. … Carolina Panthers officials didn’t know some of their players visited a South Carolina doctor suspected of writing illegal steroids prescriptions, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said. The NFL began its investigation into allegations of steroid use after a CBS News report in March. … Fans attending NFL games this season will be subject to pat-downs as part of enhanced security implemented by Tagliabue. Tagliabue emphasized in a letter to teams that there was no specific additional threat.

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