Notebook: MRI on Letroy Guion's knee shows no structural damage
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Another MRI on Letroy Guion's right knee showed no structural damage, coach Leslie Frazier said on Wednesday, and the Minnesota Vikings' starting nose tackle should be ready for the Sept. 9 opener.
Guion first injured the posterior cruciate ligament in the knee early in the Vikings' exhibition game on Aug. 10 at San Francisco. He missed last week's game against Buffalo as expected, then returned to practice on Sunday -- only to aggravate the injury early in Tuesday's practice.
Frazier said Guion's injury "just flared up again. So, we feel like we need to give him a little more time before we put him out there again. So, he'll get this weekend (off) and a few days next week as well."
Guion won't play in Friday's exhibition against San Diego and is unlikely to see action in the preseason finale on Aug. 30 at Houston, where most starters are expected to be limited to a series if they play at all.
Though Frazier praised Guion's attitude, work ethic and consistent weight, he is missing valuable practice time as he makes the transition from Kevin Williams' backup at the three-technique undertackle position to being a full-time nose.
Veteran Fred Evans always was expected to split time at the position. But the Vikings are counting on Guion making an impact after re-signing him to a three-year, $9 million contract in March that included $1.5 million in bonuses.
"It's just unfortunate that he's missing all these reps," Frazier said. "We really need him to get those reps at that position. It's somewhat of a new position for him. So, it's tough, but that's the way it is right now."
Frazier ruled out six other players for Friday's game: cornerback Chris Cook (concussion), guard Geoff Schwartz (sports hernia surgery), tight end John Carlson (knee), guard Bridger Buche (knee) and receiver Kamar Jorden (hand).
Frazier said Cook was to undergo one more post-concussion test on Wednesday afternoon and doctors felt "like he'll be cleared by the end of the day."
Safety Robert Blanton (hamstring), linebacker Larry Dean (shoulder sprain), linebacker Solomon Elimimian (hamstring) and tackle DeMarcus Love (pectoral) practiced on Wednesday but remain up in the air, Frazier said.
Frazier didn't mention halfback Jordan Todman, who has missed the first two exhibitions with a sprained ankle but practiced all week and apparently will play against the Chargers.
Mixing it up
Frazier said on Sunday the plan was to start rookie Harrison Smith and second-year pro Mistral Raymond at safety for the second straight week.
But Jamarca Sanford was working alongside Smith in the walkthrough portion of Wednesday's practice, and Frazier indicated afterward that coaches are leaning towards taking another look at their lone incumbent starter on Friday.
"We're going to give Jamarca another shot, just to see how he does," Frazier said. "He's had a great camp and he's busted his tail to compete and fight for a job."
Veteran cornerback Chris Carr is expected to start in Cook's place, Frazier said, with rookie Josh Robinson playing in the nickel defense. Another veteran, Zackary Bowman, could see time with the first unit, too.
Blanton, a fifth-round choice of the Vikings in April out of Notre Dame, had a tough enough assignment in attempting to make the transition from college cornerback to NFL safety.
But that assignment became more difficult when he missed the first two preseason games after suffering a hamstring injury early in camp.
"It's been pretty tough," Blanton said of being out. "But you've just got to stay focused and stay mentally strong. ... You want to get out there and put in some hard work with your teammates and get better but at the same time that's not the smart thing to do."
Robinson also continues to get work on punt returns, along with receivers Jarius Wright, Bryan Walters and Stephen Burton. But no one has unseated Marcus Sherels yet.
"Right now, Marcus would probably be our opening day guy if we were at that point," Frazier said of Sherels, who averaged 8.4 yards on 33 punt returns last season.
"But we've still got guys fighting for that position. We're going to work Josh back there. We're going to give Stephen Burton a chance as well. Bryan Walters will get a chance. So, we're still evaluating it. But Marcus is still ahead of the rest of the guys right now."
Receiver Jerome Simpson fielded some punts in Wednesday's practice, but Frazier said he's not an option.
Friday's game will be the last for a bunch of players on the Vikings' roster.
The deadline for NFL teams to cut down from 90 to 75 players is 3 p.m. Central on Monday. The final cutdown to 53 players is 8 p.m. CT on Friday, Aug. 31.
"For the guys that are in the bubble for the 75 as well as the 53," Frazier said, "when they get their turn in the game on Friday night, it's going to be so, so important if they show that they deserve to be a part of the next week's team.
"So, we put a lot of weight into what happen when those guys get in the game in the second half on Friday night. It'll mean a great deal as we're trying to make a determination of what 15 are going to remain or not remain."
Friday also will be the last chance for most starters to get extended action before the regular season begins. The plan is to play the first string until halftime and probably a series in the third quarter.
"The starters are going to get an extended amount of reps, and we want them to be good, quality reps," right end Jared Allen said. "Individually, you kind of look at it as you get at least a half in and you kind of test your win and see where you're at. ... It's the more important of the three, I would say, just to make sure you're geared up."
Judd Zulgad contributed