Tuesday, December 1, 2015

john sullivan

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(photo courtesy of Vikings.com)

After already playing (and defeating) the Detroit Lions twice, Minnesota will now face another of its conference rivals: Chicago. The Bears have certainly looked to be a less-than-stable team so far this season, and the Vikings defense should be enough to handle Jay Cutler and Co.

It cannot be ignored, however, that Cutler is an unpredictable force and on any given Sunday can be playing at one extreme or the other. The Vikings have also historically struggled at Soldier Field. Since 2000, Minnesota has won just one of the 14 road games against Chicago.

There are plenty of factors to consider about Sunday’s game, so let’s see how the two teams match up offensively.

Offensive Line

Now that it’s been all but guaranteed that John Sullivan will not return to the field in 2015, the Vikings know exactly what they’re working with long term. While it’s incredibly difficult to fill Sullivan’s shoes (or cleats, in this instance), Joe Berger has done an okay job stepping in as a veteran who isn’t naturally a center. Heading into Sunday’s game, the biggest concern might be rookie T.J. Clemmings.

While Clemmings hasn’t done too terrible of a job considering he was tossed into the fire in Phil Loadholt‘s absence, the rookie got demolished against Denver in Week 4 and may face a similar situation going up against linebacker Pernell McPhee. Clemmings looked entirely overwhelmed blocking against the Broncos, and McPhee could give him trouble.

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(photo courtesy of Vikings.com)

In Monday’s 2 p.m. press conference, head coach Mike Zimmer addressed the media and announced that center John Sullivan underwent another surgery and is “unlikely” to return during the 2015 season.

In early September, the Vikings placed Sullivan on Injured Reserve after he underwent back surgery; the team announced he was designated to return but would likely miss at least eight weeks. Sullivan hadn’t practiced since mid August due to back spasms, and it now seems the problems will be more long term than originally thought.

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The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings continue their Bye Bye Bye Week as we fans Drive Ourselves Crazy.

THEE Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) swings by to talk a little Purple. Whether he liked the Gerald Hodges trade or Wants Him Back, if new center Nick Easton can help the offensive line get N*SYNC, why Norv needs to spend A Little More Time worrying about Teddy Dave Bridgewater, and we cast Vikings: The Sitcom.

Editors Note: The episode will not be full of N*SYNC puns. This I Promise You.

All that and other “Harrison is JT” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

Trader Rick stikes again

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

According to a report from the NFL Network’s Rand Getlin, the Minnesota Vikings have traded Gerald Hodges Jr. to the San Francisco 49ers. Shortly after Getlin broke the news, Adam Schefter shared details of the trade, which includes a 2016 sixth-round pick and center Nick Easton from the 49ers in exchange for Hodges.

The trade comes just days after the Vikings’ Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos, a game in which Hodges did not start at middle linebacker. The 2013 fourth-round draft pick out of Penn State had started the first three weeks for the Vikings and recorded 19 tackles through four games, but saw less playing time as Mike Zimmer’s defense became more Nickel-heavy.

Hodges played just 26 snaps against the Broncos, while Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks played the majority of the Vikings’ defensive snaps at linebacker. Throughout the season, the rookie second-round pick has replaced Hodges in the team’s Nickel defense and performed well enough to warrant the trade. General manager Rick Spielman, who spoke to the media after the announcement, expressed his comfort with the team’s linebacker depth moving forward.

“It’s because of how we feel about (second-round pick Eric) Kendricks. We felt we had a lot of depth at that position. We feel strongly about Audie Cole and what he can bring and how well he’s been playing, but the development of Kendricks and Edmond Robinson continues to come along and we still have (Brandon) Watts on our practice squad at that position,” Spielman said.

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photo courtesy of vikings.com

The Vikings will kick off the 2015 regular season in San Francisco, facing the 49ers for Monday Night Football. With Adrian Peterson returning to the field after missing almost all of last season and Teddy Bridgewater heading into his full second year at the helm, the Vikings have several things to feel optimistic about.

Almost all teams experience face lifts during the offseason, but the 49ers in particular underwent extreme adjustments. In addition to gaining a new head coach in Jim Tomsula after Jim Harbaugh left for Michigan, San Francisco lost several players to retirement, off-field issues and free agency.

Let’s take a look at the Week 1 matchup:

Offensive Line

All right, let’s start with what is safe to assume will be the Vikings’ biggest concern: the offensive line. Most fans are still reeling from last year’s OL woes, and it appeared early this offseason that 2015 would offer better protection for Bridgewater and company.

Now, heading into Week 1, the Vikings are without starting tackle Phil Loadholt (Achilles) and starting center John Sullivan (back). The news of Sullivan having surgery came abruptly Thursday, after the team had reported for weeks that Sullivan simply suffered from back spasms.

In the absence of Loadholt and Sullivan, the Vikings will be relying on rookie T.J. Clemmings and veteran Joe Berger to fill in, respectively. However, there are a few silver linings: Clemmings has looked decent practicing in Loadholt’s stead, and there’s a lot of potential to grow into. Berger has been practicing with the first team for quite awhile now, and he is not exactly inexperienced. Also, the Vikings have Brandon Fusco back at the line after missing parts of the 2014 season.

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