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John Carlson Battling Through First Season With The Minnesota Vikings

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By Joseph Gunther

John Carlson, TE #89
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 251
Age: 28
Hometown: St. Cloud, MN
College: Notre Dame
Experience: 4 years

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 23: Kyle Rudolph #82 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates scoring a touchdown with John Carlson #89 during the first quarter of the game against the San Francisco 49ers on September 23, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

(Credit, Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

It has not been a smooth start to his Minnesota Viking tenure for John Carlson.

He has been injured or non-existent in the passing attack.

The troubled season began very early in training camp when he sprained the MCL in his knee. He missed all of training and the preseason.

“That he got hurt and missed all of that training camp kind of set him back, especially when you’re trying to learn a new scheme,” Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said in an interview with 1500ESPN.com. “But sometimes, some of these veterans don’t work out as well until maybe their second year.”

He returned to the Vikings lineup, but has not been able to build chemistry with quarterback Christian Ponder. He suffered a setback during the team’s Week 7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals when he was the victim of a blindside block from Rashad Johnson during a punt return by the Cardinals.

His injuries with the Vikings are just the latest in a string of ailments dating back to his days with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

He suffered several concussions and a torn labrum during his four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. The most severe injury occurred in January of 2011 in a divisional playoff game. The Seahawks were playing the Chicago Bears and about three minutes into the contest a flare pass came Carlson’s way from Matt Hasselbeck. Carlson caught the pass and rambled down sideline before getting upended by Danieal Manning. Carlson landed on his head and shoulder. He stayed down before having to be carted off the field on a board and a brace around his neck.

But, the injury that kept him out the longest period of time came on an innocent diving attempt to catch a pass in practice before the 2011 season even began. He was placed on injury reserve with a torn labrum just days after the preseason opener of the final year of his rookie contract that ended his season.

“It’s not bad, but it’s to the point where it’s going to prevent me from doing what I need to do on the field,” Carlson said after the injury was discovered. “If I can’t do what I have to do, I’m going to have to get it fixed and take it from there.”

The Seahawks drafted him in the second round (38th pick overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. He recorded 137 receptions for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns while starting 25 of 32 games from 2008-10.

However, his production has steadily declined since recording career-highs in receptions and yards as a rookie in 2008.

“I think John Carlson has a lot of football (left) and is a very good football player for us and will be a good football player in the future,” Spielman said.

The Vikings signed him to a lucrative five-year contract this offseason to give the team a potent 1-2 punch at tight end in the passing game, despite his injury history.

“We didn’t have any concern with him at all,” Spielman said after signing the former Litchfield High School star in March.

Carlson also drew interest from the Kansas City Chiefs, but there was something about the Vikings that brought him back to Minnesota.

“I’m excited to be here,” Carlson said during a conference call after signing the five-year deal. “I’ve got family ties here and lots of friends here. But it wasn’t the only factor. I wouldn’t have come back here if I didn’t think the Vikings had a great thing going here.”

The fourth-year veteran should see an expanded role while Kyle Rudolph recovers from a concussion suffered in Sunday’s loss to the Bears.

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Vikings news, see CBS Sports Minnesota.

Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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