Phil Loadholt is already on injured reserve after tearing his Achilles tendon in the second preseason game and Bykowski had surgery on his pectoral muscle, but the more immediate issue is the absence of starting center John Sullivan.
Sullivan missed two practices last week with spasms and Saturday’s third preseason game. Sullivan wasn’t practicing again on Monday as the team resumed practices in preparation for Saturday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer set his agenda for the week on Monday and improving in the run game is one emphasis handed down from the coach to the players.
“We obviously didn’t run the ball well enough the other night, which is another emphasis that we have this week that we’ve got to get going,” Zimmer said. “I’ve talked to the team this morning about that. I do think that we’re coming off the ball good. There’s one area that we definitely have to get better at in the running game and then we have to finish better in the running game. I guess the easiest way to say it is, there’s one area that’s kind of holding us back right now that we’ve got to get better at.”
Rookie T.J. Clemmings remains the starting right tackle in place of Loadholt, but with guard Brandon Fusco moved over the left side of the line for the start of offseason practices and remaining there, the right side of the line will be all new at the start of the season with former tackle Mike Harris at right guard.
“I think those guys are doing fine. I think T.J. [Clemmings] is doing a good job and there’s a couple of plays we had the other night that we didn’t block correctly, that might have been a little bit of the confusion with the 3-4 (defense) a little bit, but I don’t think that will be an issue, no.”
If Sullivan isn’t able to play Saturday against the Cowboys, it will mean three of the starters on the offensive line, in a game which is typically the one where starters play the longest, will be different than the line that started or ended last season.
MONDAY PRACTICE NOTES
“I’ve been told, obviously, what they think it is, but we haven’t made any decisions for sure yet,” he said.