Steve Hutchinson (Andrew Weber/US Presswire)
Two Vikings starters, guard Steve Hutchinson and cornerback Asher Allen, didn't practice Wednesday after suffering concussions Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Several others were limited in a short week of preparation for a Saturday game.
An offensive line that has struggled most of the year could be without its most decorated lineman Saturday against the Washington Redskins.
Left guard Steve Hutchinson, a seven-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro (2003-2009), suffered a lacerated lip that required stitches Sunday playing against the New Orleans Saints and was found to have a concussion after the game. Hutchinson wasn’t practicing Wednesday, with Joe Berger filling in for him at left guard.
Berger started the final game of October and all three games in November for Anthony Herrera at right guard after he suffered a knee injury.
“He did well. We felt like he was a guy that is more than capable of playing the guard position and playing center as well,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said of Berger. “When he was in there, he did a fine job, so we’re not stressed. We’d like to have Steve for sure, but Joe showed he could get the job done.”
Prior to missing five games last year with a thumb injury, Hutchinson had started every game for eight straight seasons.
Hutchinson has been part of offensive lines with the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings that have produced 1,000-yard rushers each of his 10 NFL seasons and has blocked for 60 career 100-yard single-game performances.
Running back Adrian Peterson is just 68 yards away from the 1,000-yard mark for the fifth time in his five-year career, after missing three consecutive games with a high ankle sprain. Peterson returned to game action on Sunday and rushed 10 times for 60 yards.
Asher Allen, who is the team’s best cover cornerback left participating on the 53-man roster, was also held out of Wednesday’s practice because of concussion.
Frazier said both Hutchinson, who wasn’t at practice, and Allen, who was watching it, will be evaluated on Thursday. With only two games left, injured reserve has to at least be a consideration, but Frazier didn’t seem inclined to go that route just yet.
“We’ll talk about it (Thursday) if they can’t make it at that point and determine what’s best from that standpoint,” Frazier said.
Both Allen and Hutchinson returned to Sunday’s game after taking a few plays off before finally leaving for good. Frazier called Allen off the field after he took a Darren Sproles knee to the back of the helmet, and Allen returned three plays later and finished the drive before heading to the locker room and not returning to action. Frazier said Allen told him he heard someone yelling his name but wasn’t sure if it was someone yelling from the stands.
Hutchinson returned to play some more in the second half after having a lip laceration stitched up, but he didn’t finish the game. He was diagnosed with a concussion after the game.
“They realized it was more than just the pain that he had in his mouth that was affecting his head,” Frazier said. “Some of these symptoms that he described, they realized it was a concussion.”
The NFL announced a new policy that will required teams to have an certified athletic trainer in press boxes during games to look for signs of players who have suffered concussions. That is expected to take effect for this weekend’s games.
Frazier, who played for the Chicago Bears in the 1980s, acknowledged that today’s protocols for concussions are much different than they were 30 years ago.
“The regard for concussions wasn’t the same as it is today. This is much better for the players, player safety,” he said.
In addition to Allen and Hutchinson missing practice, the Vikings had several players who were limited Wednesday: Anthony Herrera (knee), Jarrad Page (hamstring), Kevin Williams (knee) and Erin Henderson (illness).
For the Redskins, T Jammal Brown (groin), LB London Fletcher (ankle), RB Roy Helu (toe/knee) and FB Mike Sellers (elbow) were limited.
The parameters of John Sullivan’s five-year, $25 million contract extension include base salaries of $3 million in 2012, $3.15 million in 2013, $3.65 million in 2014 and $4.65 million in 2015 and 2016.
Adrian Peterson finished ninth overall and second among running backs in the fan portion of Pro Bowl voting. Peterson had 925,554 votes, compared to Eagles RB LeSean McCoy, who had 962,824 votes. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers led all fan voting with 1,581,982 fan votes. Quarterbacks Tom Brady (Patriots) and Drew Brees (Saints) finished second and third overall.
Jared Allen was easily the top Pro Bowl vote-getter from fans among NFL defensive ends. Allen got 784,527 votes from fans. Justin Smith (49ers) finished second among defensive ends with 525,578 fan votes.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.