Vikes' Rosenthal stays mum about facing former mates

Updated: October 22, 2003, 10:21 PM ET

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The New York Giants were willing to let right tackle Mike Rosenthal go when he got a better offer from the Minnesota Vikings this spring.

The Giants probably wish they had him back.

Rosenthal is plenty happy where he's at, and so are the Vikings.

"He is doing a great job," quarterback Daunte Culpepper said. "He is playing at a very high level, and I'm very glad that he's here. He completed that offensive line."

He probably won't ever be a dominant blocker, but the 6-foot-7, 310-pound Rosenthal's biggest value to the Vikings was that he was a reliable right tackle. That allowed Chris Liwienski to move to left guard and make Minnesota's line one of the biggest and best in the league.

"Mike has done very, very well," coach Mike Tice said. "Mike gets better every week. He's playing with more confidence. He's fixed some things with his footwork, his technique. He's a smart kid. He knows this -- he needs to work on his strength. Not a lot we can do about that right now, but we'll work on that in the offseason. But we really like Mike Rosenthal. We're glad he have him, and he's done an excellent job for us. He grades out very well every week."

A native of Indiana who starred at Notre Dame, Rosenthal was drafted in the fifth round by the Giants in 1999 -- where he became a full-time starter in 2002. He signed with the Vikings in March and is making a base salary of $980,000 this year.

This week, Rosenthal will face his former team -- including defensive end Michael Strahan, who will line up against him. Strahan set the single-season record for sacks in 2001 with 22{. He has six this year.

"I was surprised that we let him go," Strahan said of Rosenthal. "I thought he improved and that he was well worth whatever he was asking for. It just didn't work out.

"He is strong, he is big, he is athletic and he is competitive. He has all of the things that you need to be a good tackle in this league."

Rosenthal, though friendly and polite, is guarded by nature. Especially this week, when it's only natural that he'd be reluctant to say something disparaging about his former employer for fear the quote would be taped up somewhere in the locker room.

"You have 16 opponents," Rosenthal said. "Each Sunday is an opportunity to come out and play, and we're excited as a team to get out there."

Any insights as to how to stay one step ahead of the Giants' defensive line?

"Obviously I've been there, and I know how good they are up front defensively," he said. "They present challenges to us."

Meanwhile, the Giants' offensive line is in flux. Center Chris Bober has been moved to right tackle, rookie Wayne Lucier is starting at center and two other first-year players -- left guard Jeff Roehl and right guard David Diehl -- are also in the lineup. Left tackle Luke Petitgout is the only starter with much experience.

"I missed Rosey the minute he was out of here," Fassel said. "He was always one of my favorite guys. He's a tough guy, a hard-working guy. He's a dedicated guy. If I describe what kind of player I want on my team, he'd fit the mold.

"I really thought that we could sign him back. I really did. I really did. We were probably remiss in that."

Rosenthal has enjoyed fitting in with his new team.

"It wasn't a seamless transition, but the guys in that locker room have been incredible to me," he said.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index