Kyle Rudolph (Jamie Squire/Getty)
The Vikings will be looking for help this week as injuries have left them shorthanded at tight end, running back and cornerback. Other positions were affected as well, and Leslie Frazier got a call from the NFL to discuss the officiating in Sunday’s game.
The Vikings’ 53-man roster is no longer 53 men strong, feeling the effects of injuries especially hard at running back, tight end and cornerback.
Kyle Rudolph highlighted a series of moves and injury updates announced Monday. The Vikings placed the tight end on injured reserve after his fractured foot didn’t make enough progress to where the team thought he could be a contributor soon.
“We were hoping we’d be able to get him up and practicing this week. That’s not going to be the case,” head coach Leslie Frazier said.
Rudolph fractured his foot Nov. 3 against the Dallas Cowboys. Since then, John Carlson has filled in admirably, but Carlson suffered a concussion late in the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Carlson will have to go through the NFL-mandated post-concussion protocol before he can return to practice or play in a game. Frazier listed him as “day to day,” but it is third concussion for Carlson in the last three calendar years.
“I know that the league will take a look at that hit, among some others in that ballgame, and they’ll give some clarification about what needs to be done and how it should be approached,” Frazier said.
The Vikings have only Rhett Ellison and Chase Ford in reserve at tight end and no tight ends on the practice squad.
With Adrian Peterson suffering a sprained right foot that had him in a walking boot Monday and his backup, Toby Gerhart, straining a hamstring late in the fourth quarter, the Vikings are also running thin at running back. Third-string running back Matt Asiata played three snaps in the absence of Peterson and Gerhart.
“A little nicked up in some areas,” Frazier said. “Some other guys are going to have to step up and help us. We’ll see how the week goes as we go forward.”
The Vikings could also be short on experienced cornerbacks. Xavier Rhodes sprained his ankle Sunday and Frazier categorized him as “day to day,” too. The Vikings have already been without CB Josh Robinson for the last three games because of a fractured sternum. He isn’t expected to be ready to play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“The word I got today, he’s making some progress but not to the point where he’s going to be ready for this ballgame,” Frazier said about Robinson. “So we’ll have to make a decision on how we want to go forward with him. As I learn a little bit more about the likelihood of his playing maybe in the following game – that will determine what we do with him going forward.”
If Rhodes can’t go, that would leave safety Robert Blanton, who has played extensively as the nickel cornerback in the last three games, and Marcus Sherels to play opposite Chris Cook. The Vikings also have Shaun Prater on the active roster, along with Robert Steeples and Kip Edwards on the practice squad.
The Vikings could look to sign a cornerback (and maybe another position player) in the next day or two.
“We’d be pretty thin going into a ballgame with three corners or maybe four corners,” Frazier said. “We’ll see what happens with the running back position. We’ll definitely have to do something somewhere, depending on what happens or who we may or may not have.”
The Vikings may have one piece of good news regarding the secondary: Safety Harrison Smith might return for the Eagles games after being placed on injured reserve/designated for return following the Oct. 13 game against the Carolina Panthers, when he suffered a severe case of turf toe. Frazier expected that decision to come at the end of this week.
The Vikings also lost right guard Brandon Fusco with a left knee sprain in the first quarter Sunday. Joe Berger filled in for all but the first five snaps on offense.
Receiver Greg Childs was placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list Monday, ending any possibility of a comeback this season. The team had started practicing him the last three weeks, but he still hasn’t made enough progress for them to feel comfortable with him contributing in game conditions this year. He tore both patellar tendons in training camp in 2012 and has yet to play a down in the NFL.
QB Christian Ponder passed his post-concussion protocol, leaving all three options at the position – Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman – as possibilities to start Sunday’s game.
“We’ll sit down today as a staff and talk about how we want to go forward at the quarterback position,” Frazier said.
NFL ON LINE 1
Frazier said the NFL called unsolicited to talk about the officiating calls made in Sunday’s game that left the head coach “bewildered” and Adrian Peterson tweeting about the “bad officiating.”
“It was a good conversation. When we got off the phone, I said if I were asked the question you just asked, I would reference any comments to the league office,” Frazier said. “But the fact that they called should give you an indication of how they felt about things on that day. Without any provocation from me, so that was encouraging that they wanted to talk about that game from yesterday.”
Frazier declined to go into detail about what was all discussed, but there were several questionable calls made in that game. He said it was the second time this year that the NFL called to talk about the officiating.
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.