Two former Vikings were mentioned in league circles as being viable candidates to eventually take over the lead job at the NFLPA after the passing of Gene Upshaw.
The business of the NFL doesn't stop for injury, illness or even death. While we are only a day removed from the shocking news that NFL Players Association Director Gene Upshaw passed away just days after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, there is already discussion as to who will replace Upshaw. Two former Vikings are on the initial short list of potential candidates being suggested.
For the short-term, NFLPA General Counsel Richard Berthelson will be named interim director, which will be critical, since Berthelson is extremely well-versed in the current collective bargaining issues. But in the long-term, the need for a successor that has a playing background has included such names as Robert Smith and Steve Jordan, according to Adam Schefter of NFL Network and NFL.com.
Smith, who is currently a college football analyst for ESPN, has long had an interest in the affairs of players and the players union. Jordan, who works as a civil engineer, was a key cog with the union during his playing days.
Other former players being mentioned as possible candidates are Troy Vincent, Trace Armstrong and Mike Kenn. No decision on a replacement is expected until next year at the earliest and possibly longer. Berthelson is expected to oversee the next round of negotiations with owners, who opted out of the current collective bargaining agreement earlier this year.
It is getting more likely that, despite earlier suggestions that Tarvaris Jackson hasn't been ruled out of Saturday night's game with Pittsburgh, Jackson will probably sit out the game with a strained right medial collateral ligament. "There are a couple of things he can do and a couple of things he can't," head coach Brad Childress said Thursday at Winter Park. "I don't want to insinuate that he's not a tough guy or has to play injured. He has to have some of his faculties. He's got to be able to protect himself. That's usually the biggest factor that we look at: Are we putting a guy in peril? Does he have to play the game a different way? Can he protect himself? We just need to make sure he can."
Jackson declined to be interviewed Thursday, the first time this week that reporters have even been allowed in the same vicinity as the quarterback following a practice.
Bernard Berrian is expected back Saturday in some capacity after missing last week's game with a turf toe injury.
Sidney Rice isn't expected to play after missing a fourth straight day of practice Thursday with a lingering virus. The same goes for TE Garrett Mills (ankle) and DE Brian Robison (leg).
The offensive line will see a different makeup Saturday. Marcus Johnson and Tim Mattran are expected to return to action. Johnson has been sidelined with a knee sprain, while Mattran has been a slowed with an ankle injury. OT Drew Radovich is a question mark with a shoulder injury.
In a new form of injury reporting, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin listed safety Troy Polamalu as "very questionable" for Saturday's game. Polamalu has been battling a hamstring injury for the last three weeks.
There are growing rumors in St. Louis that Scott Linehan, former Vikings offensive coordinator and current Rams head coach, is on very thin ice and, barring a big turnaround this season, could be on the coaching chopping block during the season.
Former Viking J.T. O'Sullivan may have crossed the final hurdle in locking down the 49ers' starting QB job. He completed seven of eight passes for 126 yards and a TD Thursday night against Chicago and, with the final preseason game likely to see starters play for only a series or two, he appears to have won the starting job for the regular season opener – or at least done nothing to lose the chance.
Former Viking Napoleon Harris continues to be sidelined with a knee injury, which has kept him out of Kansas City's first two preseason games and almost all of training camp.