As we get closer to the first game of the 2015 NFL season, one prominent member of the Minnesota Vikings that spent much of the offseason battling injury issues is still up in the air for Monday night's opener.
John Sullivan, who has not practiced since 18 August because of back spasms, was again sitting out of practice on Monday. He was replaced at the center spot by Joe Berger, who played the position when Sullivan left last year's game against the Buffalo Bills.
The offensive line has already had plenty of issues this season for the Vikings. The team moved guard Brandon Fusco to the left side of the line, and they lost right tackle Phil Loadholt to an Achilles tendon tear in a preseason game. In addition, they've converted Mike Harris from tackle to guard, and Matt Kalil is attempting to come back from a couple of down seasons at left tackle.
Sullivan was supposed to be the foundation of this offensive line. Even though his play may have slipped a small bit over the last couple of seasons, he's still considered one of the league's best at the position. Zimmer has said that Sullivan could be back practicing as soon as Tuesday, but his absence is still cause for concern. If he is unable to go on Monday night, Berger could step in at center, but that would leave the Vikings pretty thin along the rest of the offensive line. The backup crew, if Berger were to start at center, would consist of seventh-round pick Austin Shepherd, newly acquired Jeremiah Sirles, and Zac Kerin, who made the team after spending last year on the practice squad.
The status of John Sullivan is one of the stories we'll be monitoring fairly closely as we get closer to Monday night. Hopefully he can get his back right quickly enough to be on the field for the opener.