John Sullivan (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)
The Vikings haven’t made a final decision on whether or not to play their starters in Thursday’s preseason finale, but John Sullivan won’t be among them. Plus, Sidney Rice is officially out for at least six weeks, the first roster cuts are in and traffic could be snarled Thursday.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Tuesday that a final decision on the starters for Thursday’s preseason finale hasn’t been made yet.
Most likely, the star players won’t be making an appearance, but a decision to sit the entire starting cast or a portion of it hasn’t been made yet.
“Originally I think coach said that he wasn’t going to (play the starters) and then in the team meeting right before the game he said he reserved the right to put them in if he needed to, so I’m not sure he’s made a decision on that,” Bevell said. “He hasn’t told us yet. But the guys did perform pretty decent early in that game and he’ll end up making that decision, probably pretty quick.”
Injuries have forced the Vikings make a number of adjustments to their starting lineup, most notably and consistently at center. John Sullivan hasn’t played yet this preseason and Bevell said he wouldn’t be playing again in the preseason finale Thursday night against the Denver Broncos.
“I don’t think it’s at that point yet. We’ve got to get him back out here after this preseason game,” Bevell said. “We knew that we weren’t going to have him through this game. Pretty much just being able to see if it can handle pushing off, the physical strain. He’ll be fine conditioning-wise because they’re still working with that.”
The Vikings have started 2009 rookie free agent Jon Cooper as well as Anthony Herrera, normally the starting right guard, at center in their first three preseason games. As for the regular-season opener, all three – Sullivan, Herrera and Cooper – are possibilities, Bevell said.
Bevell said the team expected to have their five starting offensive linemen from last year all healthy when they started training camp, but “at some point we’ll get Sully back.”
RICE MOVED TO RESERVE/PUP
The Vikings placed wide receiver Sidney Rice on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, meaning he will officially be out for at least the first six games of the season.
Rice had surgery on his hip last week and Vikings coach Brad Childress said it would be “at least” eight weeks before he could return. The Vikings can have him return to practice after the first six games of the season and make a determination about his future after that.
Rice tweeted on Tuesday that he was working out in a pool with Timberwolves guard Jonny Flynn.
CUTS COME HOME
The Vikings got down to the NFL-mandated 75-player roster limit on Tuesday by making the move on Rice and releasing WR Marko Mitchell and OL Bill Noethlich. The team put LB J Leman on the injured-reserve list after he cleared the waived-injured process. He joins WR Jaymar Johnson on that season-ending designation.
The Vikings will have to make a decision on CB Cedric Griffin, who is on the active physically-unable-to-perform list by Saturday.
Griffin, who hasn’t practiced with the team since tearing his ACL in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 24, could also be headed for the PUP list if trainers and doctors aren’t convinced he’s ready for action in the coming weeks.
The Vikings will have to be down to the NFL-mandated roster limit of 53 players by 5 p.m. Central Saturday, meaning at least 22 players will be waived, along with a decision being made on Griffin.
The city of Minneapolis is warning Vikings and Twins fans of the potential for congested traffic on Thursday night. With the Twins now playing in the new Target Field, Thursday night will mark the first concurrent Twins and Vikings games and the city is projecting that as many as 100,000 people will attend the two games.
The Vikings play the Denver Broncos at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 5 p.m., and the Twins host the Detroit Tigers at 7:10 p.m., with gates opening at 5:30 p.m. Additionally, the Orpheum Theatre is presenting the production “Wicked,” with doors opening there at 6:30 p.m.
The City of Minneapolis is encouraging those who drive to the games to park as close as they can to that stadium and encouraging other forms of transportation. The Hiawatha Light Rail is expected to be full, but bus service will supplement that before and after the game, picking up passengers at the 28th Ave. Station and Fort Snelling Station and going to both the Metrodome and Target Field. The Northstar commuter rail is sending an eight-car train from the Big Lake Station with stops in Elk River, Anoka, Coon Rapids and Fridley, with arrival at Target Field Station at about 6:10 p.m. Fans headed to the Vikings game will make a free transfer to the Hiawatha light-rail line for the short trip to the Metrodome. After the games, separate sets of buses will depart both venues and deliver passengers back to their starting points.
In addition to the roster moves, Sullivan, TE Garrett Mills, DT Jimmy Kennedy and S Jamarca Sanford weren’t at practice on Tuesday.
CB Marcus Sherels and WR Logan Payne were at practice but not participating because of injuries.
RB Toby Gerhart returned to practice after missing Monday.