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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings forced to wait and see on Sullivan and Loadholt recoveries

By Andrew Krammer

MINNEAPOLIS — ‘Until you start pushing on 350-pound men, you really don’t know.’

That’s the current reality for two veteran offensive linemen in center John Sullivan and right tackle Phil Loadholt as they recover from serious injuries suffered before last season. They have spent much of the offseason at the Vikings’ Winter Park facilities, where they’re allowed to rehab with the training staff. While Mike Zimmer isn’t allowed to talk football or work with players until next month, he said he’s seen both Sullivan and Loadholt inside the building.

Neither lineman played a snap last season, and the Vikings are obviously anxious to know if Sullivan’s back and Loadholt’s ankle can regain full strength to help a retooled offensive line. General manager Rick Spielman declined last month to put a timeline on either player’s recovery. During owners meetings last week in Boca Raton, Fla., Zimmer was candid about what he knew and what he couldn’t know. The early impressions were positive.

“Moving a lot better, looks a lot better,” Zimmer said of Sullivan. “His body mass is changing, getting stronger. But, I mean, who knows?

Sullivan, 30, initially thought he just ‘tweaked’ his back, something he said he’d done before, when he felt the initial injury last preseason. He played and practiced through the injury, only to shut it down mid-August with what the team called back spasms. Sullivan actually had a herniated disc in his lower back, and required surgery that ended at least half of his season. He was given the designation to return on injured reserve. In October, Sullivan suffered a setback in the weight room and needed another operation.

The Vikings were pleased with Joe Berger’s 17 starts at center, but Sullivan currently carries a non-guaranteed $5.4 million base salary. Zimmer said he anticipates both player and coach to have a better feel of Sullivan’s recovery as the workouts intensify.

“Toward the end of phase one [in April], phase two and the weight room, I think he’ll have a fairly good idea at that point in time,” Zimmer said. “But until you start pushing on 350-pound men, you really don’t know. Because it’s different than being in the weight room.”

Loadholt, 30, was carted off the field in the Vikings’ Aug. 15 preseason game against Tampa Bay after tearing his left Achilles tendon. His bad luck continued after his 2014 season ended with a torn pectoral muscle. In turn, he agreed to a contract restructure this month with no guarantees after playing 11 games in the past two seasons.

“[Loadholt] was in there, too, last week,” Zimmer said. “Saw him quite a bit, working hard. He’s progressing well. So, I think he’ll be ready, but I don’t know.”

The post Vikings forced to wait and see on Sullivan and Loadholt recoveries appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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