The Vikings are expecting to get center John Sullivan back in a starting role Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers.
After missing all four of the preseason games with a calf injury, Sullivan worked his way back into the starting lineup for the season opener and played in the first three games, but he was hurt on the first offensive play of the Vikings' Week 3 game against the Detroit Lions. It was another calf injury that took him out of commission for almost three full games.
"It's been frustrating at times, but you've just got to roll with the punches. Having a negative attitude won't do anything," Sullivan said.
Vikings coach Brad Childress said Sullivan "most probably" would be starting but that Jon Cooper, who started last week, could get a few series of work.
"It's just a matter of where he's (Sullivan) going to be over the long haul. He'll be the starter. Will Jon Cooper take a series or two? He may," Childress said. "Things like stamina and that type of thing are issues that we're worried about. Just like we wouldn't take Chris Cook back in there and have him play the duration. It's nice to have two guys. The downside to Sullivan being out is that Cooper has gotten some turns and done a nice job. I'm sure we'll probably end up fooling with both of those guys."
Sullivan said he should be in better shape now than he was for the opener after missing the entire preseason.
If Sullivan can stay healthy enough, he should remain the starter and give the offensive line some stability that it has been missing since he left the field in Week 3. The fact that he's had two calf injuries in one year could give him some hesitation that he says will be gone by game time.
"(It's) hard for there not to be some hesitation, trying to favor and protect it a little bit," Sullivan said. "But that will all go away on Sunday. You can't protect it in a game, so that's what practice is for this week."
JOHNSON IN ACTION?
After entering training camp as the incumbent starter at safety, Tyrell Johnson was demoted to be a backup for the Vikings' first two games as Husain Abdullah became the surprise starter in Week 1. Now that Abdullah is out with a concussion, Johnson is expected to at least see some time on defense Sunday night.
"You wait long enough and work hard enough and you'll get what you've been working for out of life," Johnson said. "That's all I've been doing is working and holding my head high, smiling and continue to work. This week is an opportunity and I'm going to continue to go out there and do the best that I can."
Johnson said he was frustrated at times, but he was taking the professional setback in stride.
"Does it kind of suck sometimes? Yeah, but at the same time, is it life? That's life. It's a job," Johnson said. "That's the business I chose and that's the life I chose. You've just got to be ready at all times."
Johnson said he thinks the coaches wanted to see him progress more in training camp, but he's looking forward to the opportunities he could see against a pass-happy Packers offense.
"It's a great thing. I love going out there getting action. I love when they throw the ball," Johnson said. "… The Packers and New Orleans, they don't mind throwing the ball deep and giving you opportunities to go the other way with it. I couldn't ask for a better game to come back in."
Through six games, the Packers have run the ball 134 times while throwing 201 passes.
Cornerback Antoine Winfield said Johnson is athletic enough to handle a good passing game.
"T's an athlete. He has really good feet. They put him out there on the scout team, playing a little cornerback. He's working good," Winfield said. "We don't know the game plan the Packers are going to do. I'm sure they might come out there and try to spread us out."
The Vikings are also expected to get cornerback Chris Cook back in action as he attempts to come back from his second torn meniscus since the start of the preseason. It's uncertain if Cook will start or just play in the nickel defense.
"He's a big body, plays well at the line of scrimmage, but with him it just adds another body to our cornerback position," Winfield said.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Sullivan, Cook, Johnson expected back
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