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Updated: August 30th, 2010 4:16pm
Notebook: Odds continue to stack against John Sullivan starting opener

Notebook: Odds continue to stack against John Sullivan starting opener

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- John Sullivan missed another practice on Monday, further raising the chances the Minnesota Vikings will have to start someone else at center in the Sept. 9 opener at New Orleans.

It was the latest apparent step back for Sullivan, who got kicked in the right calf on the second day of training camp and has been in and out of practice since.

The third-year pro was on the practice field every day last week but didn't play in Saturday's exhibition against Seattle.

"We're just trying not to load it up too much," coach Brad Childress said of Sullivan, who has yet to suit up for a preseason game.

"We're still trying to get some of the soreness out."

Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell acknowledged on Saturday that moving Anthony Herrera more permanently to center -- where he played some Aug. 22 at San Francisco and started against the Seahawks -- and starting rookie Chris DeGeare in Herrera's usual spot at right guard is a possibility.

Jon Cooper started the first two preseason games at center and got more action on Saturday. Veteran backup Ryan Cook also has worked there in camp but is a long shot to take on the starting role.

Asked directly if Herrera will be the center on Sept. 9, Childress said, "Just depends. We've got three guys in there rolling, which we need to make sure that we have three viable candidates, and then you've got Ryan Cook that also has the ability to go in there.

"That thing's like everything on offense -- we're still kind of in a state of change."

Splitting time?

Rookie Toby Gerhart received far more work with the first-team offense on Saturday than Albert Young, but the No. 2 halfback job behind Adrian Peterson apparently is headed for a timeshare.

"I think it'll be by week and who we're facing and what exactly we need out of a second running back," Childress said. "If you remember last year, there were numbers of games where we didn't have a third running back up, and from time to time, that'll happen when we need maybe another tight end up or need another rush guy. ... Those guys are (numbers) 2 and 2A."

Gerhart injured his right knee on Saturday and was missing when practice resumed on Monday morning, but his status isn't believed to be in doubt for the opener.

Getting action

Childress says he still hasn't determined whether his starters will see any action in Thursday's preseason finale against Denver, but he acknowledged the quick turnaround will play a factor.

Following Saturday's exhibition win over Seattle, players had a day off on Sunday and then returned to the practice field in shoulder pads for one of the week's two full practices on Monday morning.

"We will go to shells (Tuesday), and obviously, they've got to play a game on Thursday," Childress said. "It's tough on their bodies, and I'm aware of that."

Johnson recovering

Receiver Jaymar Johnson, who underwent surgery to repair the thumb he broke Aug. 14 at St. Louis, wrote Monday morning on Twitter that "I got the cast off and the doctor says everything looks fine! Bad news is that I can't start any major rehab yet."

Johnson is on injured reserve and has cleared waivers, so the Vikings have the option of working out an injury settlement and releasing him.

That would allow Johnson to play this season once he's recovered -- he tweeted the timeline is six to eight weeks -- although there would be a moratorium before the Vikings could re-sign him.

Quick hits

• Favre on Saturday told Sports Illustrated's Peter King he received an injection of lubricant -- "like a grease fitting" -- in his surgically repaired left ankle after Saturday's game. Favre has said repeatedly he has a limited range of motion in the ankle, which has been operated on three times in his career. He practiced on Monday.

• Asked to evaluate Cook's play in his starting debut Saturday, Childress said the rookie "did all right. I thought he particularly showed up on one of those screens. I thought he kind of gave a nice foot wiggle to the lineman pulling on one of those run plays. I think he showed up in terms of his tackling as well as his coverage."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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