By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings expected to get John Sullivan back at some this season when he was placed on the injured reserve with the designation to return before the season began. After suffering a setback in the weight room a week and a half ago, the team is not sure the starting center will play again this season.
The eighth-year veteran quietly became one of the league’s best centers while playing every game over the last three seasons for the Vikings. He had missed just three games in his career and has started every game he has played in since his second year in the league.
“It was disappointing and he was doing really, really good and then all of a sudden, he had a little mishap, so he had to have another (surgery) done,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said Monday during his weekly press conference.
In his place, Joe Berger has been the starting center for all six games this season. Berger filled in last season when then-starting right guard Brandon Fusco and his primary backup Vladimir Ducasse were injured. Zimmer praised Berger at that time for stabilizing the offensive line.
Zimmer wants to prove the naysayers wrong
The Minnesota Vikings were a trendy sleeper pick during the offseason to make the playoffs as a wild card. That tune changed very quickly when they were blown out by the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1.
“I just think that, there was a lot of doubters after we lost to San Francisco, right?” Zimmer said when asked who is doubting his team. “I don’t know. When people say we lose all of these games, we can’t win a game on the road, we can’t win a game in the division, I just take it personally I guess. Even tough I haven’t been around that long. I’m hearing it from 10 years ago, or something they’re telling me.”
However, since that game, they have won four of five games and currently possess the second wild card spot in the NFC playoff standings. They have a full game or more lead on the teams chasing them.
“I like proving people wrong,” Zimmer said. “People have doubted me for a long, long time. I hope they keep doubting our football team, because that’s the mentality I’m trying to get them, say what you want and let’s go prove it.”
The Vikings have another chance to overcome their own history this week with a trip to Chicago to face the Bears. They haven’t won in Soldier Field since 2007.
The Vikings announced several roster moves Tuesday. Cornerback Jabari Price was placed on injured reserve and wide receiver Donte Foster was released from the practice squad. Linebacker Brandon Watts was promoted from the practice squad to take Price’s spot on the 53-man roster. Fullback Blake Renaud and linebacker Terrance Plummer were signed to the practice squad to fill the two open spots.
Price was suspended for the first two games of the season and has been inactive with a shoulder issue since.
Watts was a seventh round pick of the Vikings in 2014. As a rookie, he played in two games and made one tackle. He was among the final cuts at the end of the preseason.
Foster has been signed to and released from the Vikings practice squad a few times over the last two seasons.
Renaud was signed as an undrafted rookie in April. He was among the team’s final cuts at the end of the preseason.
Plummer was signed by the Washington Redskins as an undrafted rookie following in April. He was among the Redskins last cuts, but was signed to their practice squad. He was promoted to the 53-man roster after Week 1 and was active for three games. He recorded one tackle before being waived following Week 4.
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.