Sullivan, Cooper prepare for center duties

John Sullivan is hoping to be ready to play on Sunday, but Sullivan's history of calf injuries tells Jon Cooper to be ready if needed. The way it's been going with Sullivan, there's a decent chance Cooper will be needed.

John Sullivan has no doubt that his calf injuries will continue to be a pain in the legs for the rest of the year, but at this point there is little he can do but grin and bear it until the end of the season.

Sullivan left Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears in the Vikings' first offensive drive pulling up gimpy after making a block.

"I wasn't totally sure how bad it was. I knew that I had to get off the field, get evaluated," Sullivan said. "You kind of go to the ground to give the next guy some time to get in, so that's why I went down there."

It turned out he was down and out for the remainder of the game, but it's hardly the first time that he has experienced a calf injury that took him out of action. Far from it. It's the third time since training camp started that Sullivan has been out of commission, as he's suffered injuries to both calf muscles, and now a second injury to his left calf.

He's never been so frustrated with an injury in his life.

"Never in my life. Nope. This is the first time," he said. "It's useless to search for answers at this point. The best thing we can do is get back in there, get some more treatment, do more rehab and try to get back on the field as soon as possible."

Sullivan said he fully anticipates he will be dealing with the injuries until the end of the season, at which time consistent rest should heal them.

"There's nothing structurally going on. There's no defects in my calves. This calf is injured and it needs time to get better," he said, the frustration coming through in his voice. "Time is of the essence during the season. You've got to try to get back out there as soon as possible."

He is hoping to practice today and play Sunday, but if that's not possible, the Vikings will turn to Jon Cooper once again. Cooper filled in for Sullivan earlier this year after the Vikings moved from Sullivan to Cook, and Cooper was the player the Vikings turned to on Sunday.

"That's why you've got to go into every game prepared to play because you never know what's going to happen or when it's going to happen," Cooper said.

"I think it went pretty well. We got all the calls and saw everything that we had the indicators for and had pretty good pass protection and decent in the run game."

Quarterback Brett Favre wasn't sacked the entire game, and the Vikings had 56 yards rushing in the first half. However, they had only 14 yards rushing on eight carries in the second half.

"I'm sure they made adjustments and we made adjustments, but when you start getting behind you're playing catch-up," Cooper said. "It's hard to really get a rhythm in the run game … but there were still some holes there and we had some productivity, but we need to get that going again."

Cooper isn't sure what the plan will be at center going forward. It all depends on how quickly Sullivan rebounds from his latest calf injury.

But with Sullivan's history of calf injuries this season, Cooper knows one thing: He had better be ready because there's a chance he could be needed whether he's starting or not. It happened for an extended period during training camp, which helped prepare Cooper.

"It's kind of like, well, you're the next guy – you've got to be ready to go at all times," Cooper said. "Every week you've got to prepare like you're going to start because it could happen on Saturday at walk-through for all I know."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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