By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings have been fortunate to avoid serious injuries this season.
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams missed Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Lions after suffering a knee injury during the preseason and center John Sullivan sustained a knee contusion following an interception. Both of those could have been season-ending injuries.
“Injury-wise we came out pretty good,” head coach Leslie Frazier said. “The only guy that is a little bit banged up, and should be alright for practice, is (Sullivan). He should be able to do some work on Wednesday when we come back and start preparation for our next ball game. (Williams), we’re hoping to get some work out of him when we get back as well. We’ll see how he progresses as the week goes on, but other than that, we’re a pretty healthy football team.”
The Vikings had 11 players on the injury report during last week’s practices, but only Williams was ever considered to a be a concern to play.
This week the team should have about the same to a few less, and only Williams and Sullivan will be watched for their participation status.
Vikings upset over Suh block
Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh faced supplemental discipline from the NFL for an illegal block below the waist, and though he avoided suspension, Suh was ultimately fined $100,000.
Suh dove at the outside of Sullivan’s knee while the two were chasing DeAndre Levy following his interception Sunday.
“You just hate to see guys get hit below the waist,” Frazier said. “You just know that can result in some serious injuries so you just hate to see it.”
It was as unnecessary a hit as there is in football. Levy, a linebacker, was already five yards ahead of Sullivan, a lineman, and pulling away.
“I wasn’t by any means going for his knees,” Suh said through ESPN.com. “He knows that. We had a great conversation running out at halftime, and he understood. My aim was his waist to cut him off.”
Sullivan, however, wasn’t as forgiving as Suh thinks.
“It was pretty clear that I was out of the play,” he said to the KFAN radio station on Monday. “I don’t think he was trying to hurt me, but there (needs to) be consequences when guys don’t respect the careers of other players.”
Patterson barely sees field
The Vikings were excited to take Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round of the draft. However, the dynamic receiver only saw the field for five plays in his NFL debut Sunday.
Last week, Patterson was on the injury report last week with a back injury, but that, along with some pre-draft concerns over his ability to learn an offense, were apparently not the reason.
“No, he’s healthy,” Frazier said Monday.
Frazier then addressed whether or not the young receiver was picking up the offense.
“Yeah he is. It’s not an issue, just a coach’s decision.”
He also added that they are going to try to get him more on the field, but sustaining more drives is necessary.
Pulling the plug on Ponder?
Christian Ponder showed the inconsistency that has plagued the 2011 first round draft picks career in Sunday’s loss.
He completed two deep passes to Jerome Simpson and showed the ability to make a throwing lane on the sidearm touchdown toss to Adrian Peterson. But, the three interceptions could have been avoided. He threw the ball high and inside on slant route that the corner was able to tip, tried to throw the ball while scrambling to his left and being chased in close pursuit by Suh, and threw high to his receiver in the final minutes of the game that created a second tipped interception.
Frazier didn’t put the blame for the loss on Ponder, and rightfully so. If there was ever a total team loss, Sunday’s defeat was it for the Vikings.
“It wasn’t all on Christian,” Frazier said after the game. “We didn’t play well as a team. There were some things he’d like to do better. But a lot of other guys, too. When they look at this tape tomorrow, we’re going to see that it wasn’t just Christian. We’ve got to do better all the way across the board.”
However, Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN wrote a column this week about a quarterback change and how the 2007 season set the precedent for action.
The Vikings under then-head coach Brad Childress started the season with second-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who was supposed to be the long-term answer.
The Vikings lost to the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts to open the season. Three days after the Week 2 loss, Childress, who was usually quiet about the who the starting quarterback would be when it was in question, announced veteran Gus Frerotte would become the starter.
Frerotte went on the win seven of 10 games before getting hurt. The Vikings made the playoffs and were quickly ousted by the Philadelphia Eagles.
It is believed that owner Zygi Wilf had a hand in the decision to start Frerotte.
As Zulgad points out, Frazier does not have a contract beyond this season and Wilf likes fan approval, especially with team getting a new stadium in the coming years.
A poor showing in Chicago could spell the end of the Ponder era in Minnesota with accomplished veteran Matt Cassel waiting for the opportunity.
For more Vikings news and updates, visit Vikings Central.
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. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.