On Friday, we took a look at the status of Minnesota Vikings' offensive tackle Phil Loadholt, who declared that he was on the road to recovery from an injury that caused him to miss the entire 2015 NFL season. Now, another member of the Minnesota Vikings that suffered a similar fate has said that he's going to be ready to go for next season, too.
Speaking with Paul Allen on KFAN on Friday, center John Sullivan said that he fully plans on playing for the Vikings in 2016.
Sullivan initially injured his back during the preseason, and was placed on IR-return just before the Vikings' season opener in San Francisco. Before he could make his return, he reaggravated the injury and wound up missing the entire season. Since taking over as the Vikings' starting center in 2009, he had missed just three games, and had not missed a start since 2011.
Since becoming the starter at center for the Vikings, Sullivan has been among the league's best at the position. He'll be 31 by the time this season starts, and commands a salary cap figure of $5.83 million, but the Vikings could save nearly all of that if they chose to part ways with him. Back injuries are always a bit of a tricky thing, particularly for offensive linemen, but Sullivan seems confident that he'll be making it back.
"I'm doing well, finally getting better," Sullivan said. "I think I'm 16 weeks out post-op from the second surgery. I'm doing stuff back on the field, back in the weight room. It's just been a long road.
"It's definitely an injury you can come back from...plenty of guys have," Sullivan added. "Linemen, tight ends, running backs...the full spectrum of position groups. Now we're getting to the point where we can push it a little bit and get me back into shape."
Hopefully Sullivan will be able to make it back and regain his previous form for our favorite football team. If he does come back, however, the question. . .much as it was with Loadholt's potential return. . .is how the dominoes would fall. Joe Berger had a great season for the Vikings after stepping in at center for this season, and though he's proven to be the sort of versatile backup that teams need to have, there's a chance
he could parlay his outstanding 2015 season into something bigger somewhere else that the team might put him back at the guard spot if Sullivan returns. If the team tried to kick Berger back to one of the guard spots, then we'd need to see what happens with Brandon Fusco, Mike Harris, and (potentially) T.J. Clemmings along the offensive line.
(EDIT: I don't know why I had it in my head that Berger was a free agent. As Krauser pointed out in the comments, he's under contract for 2016 after all. My mistake. -Chris)
Here's hoping for the best for John Sullivan in his recovery. He's been a very good player for the Vikings for a very long time, and with the team heading in the direction that they are, it would be nice if Sullivan could come back and be a contributing factor to them taking the next step.