Vikings place Avery on IR, activate Davis

Updated: October 24, 2003, 8:22 PM ET

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Charles Stackhouse has carved a niche as a reliable blocker for Minnesota this season, and the second-year fullback is happy where he's at with the surprisingly successful Vikings.

But this week, he can't help but think about the opponent, the New York Giants.

Stackhouse, who started as a rookie, was cut by the Giants right before the regular season started after losing his job to Jim Finn.

"I'm really focused on helping my team win," Stackhouse said, "but it is in the back of my mind. I did put in a lot of hard work for that team."

Stackhouse said he keeps in touch with several of his old teammates, including injured wide receiver Ron Dixon and running back Ron Dayne.

Giants coach Jim Fassel was upset with Stackhouse during a practice in August, when he threw an errant punch at a teammate during a drill. But this week, Fassel said it was a difficult decision to release the Mississippi product.

"Charles knows it was tight -- there was a flip of the coin," Fassel said. "Honestly I can say I don't know that I've ever had a decision that isolated. ... I said to the staff one time, 'Some decisions you're really worried you'll make a wrong decision,' but I said, 'I don't see any way we can make a wrong decision. They're so close. Both of them are going to be good players.'

"I figured somebody would pick him up and he'd catch on, and obviously he did at Minnesota."

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^INJURY UPDATE:@ The Vikings placed running back John Avery on injured reserve and activated wide receiver Nick Davis from the physically unable to perform list on Friday.

Avery has a knee injury that coach Mike Tice called a chondral defect. He struggled as the Vikings' kick returner and lost that job to running back Doug Chapman this week.

Davis recently returned to practice after recovering from shoulder surgery in June. Tice said Davis had a chance to return kickoffs Sunday against the New York Giants.

In other injury news, wide receiver D'Wayne Bates was downgraded to questionable for Sunday's game with a strained hamstring. Wide receiver Kelly Campbell remains probable with a bruised calf. Tice said if Bates and Campbell are both unable to play, Davis will suit up. Either way, rookie Keenan Howry -- who's been returning punts -- will see extensive playing time behind Randy Moss and Nate Burleson.

Tice also said Bennett will be added to the active roster next week. That means kicker Jose Cortez will probably be let go if Aaron Elling's back is in satisfactory shape.

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^BIG GUYS, BIG WEEK:@ Last week, Tice issued a challenge to nose tackle Fred Robbins -- who needed to play strong inside against Denver's excellent offensive line. This week, the onus is on offensive tackles Bryant McKinnie and Mike Rosenthal, who will be blocking Giants defensive ends Kenny Holmes and Michael Strahan.

Strahan, who set the NFL's single-season sack record in 2001 with 22{, has six sacks this year. That's Rosenthal's assignment.

"If it was me, I would be looking forward to going against him," Tice said. "He is one of the premier players in the league. I don't know how you could not look forward to it. It's going to be a long day, and it's going to take a lot of effort and a lot of work. Certainly, we're not going to leave him out there hanging on an island alone, I can promise you that.

"Both of our tackles on offense need to play well ... without a doubt, absolutely, positively."

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