Rested Steve Hutchinson feels 'as good as I have' during NFL career
INDEPENDENCE, Minn. -- Steve Hutchinson admits he's not a big golfer.
However, the last time the Minnesota Vikings' left guard played, he hit the ball straight -- and he has had a little extra time to straighten out his swing this offseason.
Heavy winds at the third annual Champions for Children Golf Classic that Hutchinson hosted on Monday at Windsong Farm Golf Club may have affected his tee shots more than the NFL lockout has hindered his ability to stay in shape and maintain his routine.
"Not that much," Hutchinson told 1500ESPN.com when asked how the lockout is affecting him and the team.
"If you look at what we'd be doing this time, other than the fact we haven't had OTAs and minicamps -- I'm doing the same workouts I would have been doing if they would have been organized at Winter Park. So, from where we usually are at this point in the offseason, I'm in just as good of shape as I would have been, and that's really all you can ask."
Although he has not been able to speak with coaches and training staff members, Hutchinson continues to have workouts with Vikings teammates, including running back Toby Gerhart, tight end Jim Kleinsasser, linebackers Chad Greenway, Ben Leber and Heath Farwell, center John Sullivan and other offensive linemen.
The Vikings are one of a shrinking group of NFL teams that haven't had dozens of players at informal practices, with training camp little more than a month away.
"There's little groups that workout," Hutchinson said. "There's a group of about seven of us that workout every day, five days a week."
The workouts don't have the same physical demands that OTAs and minicamps have, simply because players lack a trained medical staff on site in case of injury. But they're designed to get players into something close to football shape.
"A lot of the agility stuff," Hutchinson said, "and things you don't really necessarily have time for, because you have to work in practice."
Hutchinson has been a workhorse for most of his 10-year NFL career. But he was beat up in 2009 and missed the final five games of last season with a broken thumb.
Still, at age 33, the seven-time Pro Bowl pick says he's confident about his health and durability -- and the lockout probably isn't hurting his body.
"I feel as good as I have since I've been in the league," Hutchinson said. "When you get the time off and you're not getting back into it right away, helmet on and going through those things, your body gets a little more chance to rest."
Hutchinson knows football fans don't want to see the lockout last much longer, though. And as the Vikings' player representative, Hutchinson knows teammates are champing at the bit to get back to work.
"You're a professional athlete," Hutchinson said. "All you can do it keep your body in shape and be ready when the bell rings to start."
• The event was a benefit for the University of Minnesota's Amplatz Children's Hospital. Other celebrity attendees including former Twins player and coach Al Newman, Gophers basketball great Randy Breuer and Minnesota hockey legend Lou Nanne.