By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings have been blessed not to have suffered a serious injury so far this season. This week is no different with only Rhett Ellison being a question mark to play in Sunday’s home opener against the Cleveland Browns. The second-year tight end suffered a hyperextended knee in the Week 2 loss to the Chicago Bears.
“We’re going to hold him back and give his knee a little more time to heal and just see how he does tomorrow as well,” Leslie Frazier said during Wednesday’s press conference. Ellison has not practiced yet this week. After Thursday’s practice, Frazier seemed less optimistic about Ellison’s status for Sunday’s game.
“I think you have to approach it (like he won’t play),” Frazier said. “He’s gotten better, but we’ll see how much he can do, or if he can do anything (Friday).” The Vikings do not expect it to be a long term issue for Ellison moving forward.
“We’ll be day-to-day with him,” Frazier said. “We’ll see how it goes, but it should not be a long term situation at all.” Undrafted rookie Zach Line is expected to see a boost in playing time if Ellison does not play.
“Zach would be the guy,” Frazier said. “He’s done a good job in these first two games. His snaps will probably go up a little bit because of Rhett’s absence, but we’ve got some other ways we can get some things done. We’ll see what happens with Rhett.”
Ellison was serving as the primary lead blocker in front of Adrian Peterson while Jerome Felton served his suspension, which expires after Sunday’s game. Line is new to playing fullback and his primary duty is to block. He was the primary ball carrier for Southern Methodist University last season.
“I still don’t feel like I’m blocking as well as I want to,” Line told Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “You’ve just got to keep seeing it on film. Being a runner, you’re always trained to avoid hitting people. Now you want the whole block and you want to contain that guy. My leverage has to keep improving. My (position) coach said I’m using about 50 percent of my power. He said, ‘If you use your leverage better, you’ll be good.’ I’ve watched a lot of Jerome Felton’s film, for sure.”
The Vikings had more serious injury scares earlier in the season, but center John Sullivan and defensive tackle Kevin Williams missed just limited time from knee injuries suffered on low blocks. Both were limited in practice this week along with defensive tackle Fred Evans (shoulder), linebacker Erin Henderson (heel) and safety Harrison Smith (shoulder). All of them are likely to play Sunday along with the full participants — offensive lineman Brandon Fusco (shoulder), offensive tackle Phil Loadholt (knee) and safety Mistral Raymond (shoulder).
- Rhett Ellison (Knee)
- Fred Evans (Shoulder)
- Brandon Fusco (Shoulder)
- Erin Henderson (Heel)
- Greg Jennings (Not Injury Related)
- Phil Loadholt (Knee)
- Mistral Raymond (Shoulder)
- Harrison Smith (Shoulder)
- John Sullivan (Knee)
- Kevin Williams (Knee)
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.