Vikings ‘eager’ for Carlson’s return
John Carlson (John Emms/Viking Update)
John Carlson (John Emms/Viking Update)
Posted Aug 20, 2012
Tim Yotter

Tight end John Carlson is making his way back from a sprained medial collateral ligament and the Vikings are looking forward to his return, but it won't be this week.

The Vikings’ top free-agent signing this offseason has yet to play a game after tight end John Carlson suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in the first full week of training camp.

Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said Carlson is making progress, but he won’t play in the most important preseason game for the starters on Friday night against the San Diego Chargers.

“Hopefully we can get him back next week and start working on some timing and get him back included in our offense so it won’t be quite an issue with the time we’ll have between the Texans game and our first regular-season game,” Frazier said. “We would have loved to have him this preseason to work with Kyle (Rudolph) and for Christian (Ponder) to get comfortable with him, but that just hasn’t been the case.”

Carlson hasn’t practice yet with the Vikings since the knee injury on July 31. Frazier estimated the next day that Carlson would be out “a week or two.” Tuesday will be three weeks, and last week Carlson was optimistic he would return to action before the regular-season opener.

“I hope to be back before then, but it’s a day-to-day thing and we’ll see how things progress,” Carlson said.

“The trainers do a great job of pushing us but making sure we do the right thing for our health and being able to stay healthy for a whole season. I’m kind of relying on those guys and they’re helping me along.”

His immersion back into the offense would be a welcome sign for many of his teammates and coaches. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave wants to have an offense that rely on multiple-tight end formations.

“We’re eager,” Musgrave said of Carlson’s eventual return. “I’m sure John is more eager than any of us coaches or teammates or administration. We want to have him be a contributor, so as soon as he can I know he’ll be back out there with us.”

Carlson was given a five-year, $25 million contract in March, despite missing the entire 2011 season with the Seattle Seahawks because of a shoulder injury. While they still have Kyle Rudolph as a legitimate pass-catching tight end in the lineup, the return of Carlson could help the offense.

Musgrave said he hopes the offense will become more versatile when Carlson returns, but it could take some time for him and Ponder to get their timing together again. That was just starting to come together before the Vikings had a break in their offseason action between minicamp and training camp. Then four days of practice into training camp, Carlson hurt his knee.

“Obviously he was new to this offense and he had to get comfortable,” Ponder said. “Especially in minicamp, he was making plays. One thing that sticks out to me was we had that two-minute drill and he made that tight catch in coverage. He’s really athletic; he’s got great hands. He’s a really smart guy even though he went to Notre Dame.”

Until Carlson’s return, the Vikings will patch things together with a trio of tight ends even less experienced than Rudolph, in his second season.

They selected Rhett Ellison in the fourth round of April’s draft and he appears ready to be a versatile contributor in 2012, and behind him are two players – Allen Reisner and Mickey Shuler – who have struggled to fully establish themselves on an NFL roster.

“Rhett has done a nice job for a rookie, and then both Allen and Mickey had good games the other night in the passing game,” Musgrave said. “All of them are really blocking well. I’m very pleased with that aspect because we’re going to need it because we’re going to run the football. I don’t know that (Carlson’s absence) has really altered the playcalling. It just has altered our depth there having four guys available rather than five.”


  • Defensive lineman Everson Griffen missed Monday’s practice with a stomach virus. Frazier was optimistic Griffen would return Tuesday.

  • Rudolph returned to practice Monday after sitting out Sunday with concussion-like symptoms after taking a hit in Friday night’s game against the Buffalo Bills.

  • Cornerback Chris Cook, who also suffered concussion-like symptoms, did not practice Monday. He hadn’t passed all of his post-concussion tests.

  • Also sitting out practice Monday were WR Kamar Jorden (hand), guard Geoff Schwartz (sports hernia) and LB Solomon Eliimimian (hamstring).

  • FB Matt Asiata returned to practice after missing Sunday because of a funeral in the family.

  • Tackle DeMarcus Love has also resumed practice after missing time with a shoulder injury.

  • Musgrave said the Vikings will use their third preseason game this Friday against the San Diego Chargers to start scaling back on Jerome Simpson’s work with the first-team offense. The Vikings will be without Simpson for the first three games of the regular season after he pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge for possessing marijuana.

    “He’s not going to get maximum work (Friday),” Musgrave said. “He’s going to get more limited work because we are going to line up the guys and get familiar with the guys that will be lining up against Jacksonville.”

  • The Vikings will keep a close eye on Adrian Peterson throughout the week before making a determination on his status for Friday.

    “We’re going to put him through his paces today and tomorrow and the following day. It’s like a Wednesday for us with the Friday night kickoff,” Musgrave said. “So another week will be good for his development and also for our ability to assess his status.”

    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.

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