Injuries hamper Vikings

Published 4:15 am Wednesday, November 6, 2013

EDEN PRAIRIE — The Minnesota Vikings have a long list of ailing starters and not much time before their next game.

That is a fitting development this week for a team that stumbled into the midpoint of the season with a 1-7 record, matching the worst start in franchise history.

“It happens to some teams some years, and some years you don’t get it,” coach Leslie Frazier said of the often cyclical and always unpredictable rash of injuries. “It’s a part of our game. It happens.”

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With tight end Kyle Rudolph expected to miss four to six weeks because of a broken left foot that occurred during his touchdown catch Sunday in a loss at Dallas, Frazier said Tuesday that right tackle Phil Loadholt will sit out Thursday against Washington due to a concussion. Loadholt hasn’t missed a game since his rookie year in 2009, but his absence will end a streak of 25 games started by the same five offensive linemen since the beginning of last season.

J’Marcus Webb, who replaced Loadholt on Sunday and gave up the sack that led to a fumble by Christian Ponder that was recovered for a touchdown by the Cowboys, will start. Webb was added to the roster in September after being let go by the Chicago Bears.

“Phil is a vital part of our offensive line, one of our top players,” Frazier said. “But that’s one of the reasons we signed J’Marcus. … He’ll go in and he’ll play well. He’s familiar with our system now. It’s a great opportunity for him.”

Left guard Charlie Johnson didn’t practice Tuesday, either, due to an elbow injury. If he can’t play, Joe Berger would likely be the starter.

The defense is still hurting, too.

Cornerback Chris Cook, who sat out Sunday because of a strained muscle in his hip, returned to practice Tuesday on a limited basis. Frazier sounded pessimistic about his availability to face Robert Griffin III and the Redskins when he addressed reporters before the workout. Safety Jamarca Sanford was absent again due to a groin problem. Cook and Sanford have missed two of the last five games, and the other starting safety Harrison Smith was placed on injured reserve last month.

Cornerback Josh Robinson was limited in practice because of a chest injury. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who hurt his shoulder Sunday but returned to action, was also limited in the workout Tuesday. Nose tackles Letroy Guion and Fred Evans didn’t practice.