Injuries have a way of wiping out any optimism during the preseason, but the Minnesota Vikings have been lucky this year. The team sat a few starters against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, avoiding any major injuries that would’ve derailed Minnesota’s chances at a Super Bowl run.
Though a handful of players finished with bumps and bruises, none are expected to miss more than a few weeks. Second-year tight end MyCole Pruitt was injured on an 11-yard pass in the second quarter, and initial reports indicated he’d need further testing on his left knee. But an MRI on Monday dispelled fears of a long-term condition.
According to Chris Tomasson, Pruitt’s test came back negative, indicating nothing more than a sprained MCL. He’s expected to miss two-to-four weeks, and that shouldn’t be a defining issue for a Vikings team with three other quality tight ends on the roster.
Still, losing Pruitt for an extended period would’ve put a dent in Minnesota’s offensive plans. Pruitt is Minnesota’s second-best receiving tight end and saw extensive playing time in two-tight end sets this preseason. Through three games, he’d recorded four catches for 39 yards, displaying certain athletic traits that Kyle Rudolph, David Morgan, and Rhett Ellison just don’t possess.
Morgan, who’s impressing more and more each week, has shown the ability to thrive as a blocker and receiver in Turner’s offense. Pro Football Focus awarded Morgan an 88.9 run-blocking grade after his outing against the Chargers, a game in which the rookie also caught two passes for 17 yards. He’ll continue to develop and fill in for Pruitt as do-it-all tight end Ellison makes his full return from a torn patellar tendon.
Elsewhere on the roster, the Vikings saw two safeties go down with minor injuries. “[Antone] Exum had an MRI but there was nothing yet,” head coach Mike Zimmer told the media, per an official press release. “Michael Griffin’s back locked up on him.”
Exum left the game in the first quarter and did not return after twisting his leg in a kickoff pileup. His X-Ray came back negative, per the Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer, and Exum was seen wearing a knee brace after the game. He and Griffin are in danger of missing the final 53-man cut, and Sunday’s injuries only hurt their chances of remaining with the Vikings. If both survive Tuesday’s first round of cuts, they’ll need the fourth preseason game to prove they’re worth roster spots — and hold off lanky rookie Jayron Kearse.
A player safe from losing his spot is Eric Kendricks, though he’s missed every preseason game with a nagging hamstring injury. Darren Wolfson reports the second-year linebacker is making progress and participating in drills during practice. Joining Kendricks on the all-injured, all-starters team are Matt Kalil (leg) and Xavier Rhodes (hamstring), who both sat against the Chargers. They’ll get more rest this week and should be ready for the season opener on September 11.
Outside of those listed, the Vikings are a relatively healthy group. Teddy Bridgewater made a rousing return to the field on Sunday, Brandon Fusco was solid in his first preseason action at right guard, and the team finished Sunday’s game in much better shape injury-wise than the Chargers.