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Updated: August 31st, 2010 6:29pm
Pelissero: Good luck with injuries ended in the NFC championship game

Pelissero: Good luck with injuries ended in the NFC championship game

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by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- It started at the Superdome.

That's where Sidney Rice, Cedric Griffin and Brett Favre limped out on Jan. 24 with the injuries that still are impacting them today.

That's where the Minnesota Vikings' good fortune with injuries came to an end.

Oh, linebacker E.J. Henderson's broken leg seven weeks earlier was bad. But at that point, the Vikings didn't have a single player on injured reserve.

Seventeen starters played every game for that team.

This team has a swarm of locusts in the locker room.

Rice had hip surgery last week and will miss at least a couple of months.

Griffin is rehabbing his reconstructed knee and still hasn't been cleared for practice.

Favre had ankle surgery that didn't take and might need weekly oil changes.

Center John Sullivan got kicked a month ago and has missed the whole preseason.

Playmaker Percy Harvin has missed weeks with migraines and is permanently day-to-day.

Rookie Chris Cook seized Griffin's job at right cornerback -- the only big hole when training camp began -- and injured a knee the same night.

That last one might end up hurting as much as any.

Because it continues at the Superdome.

Rice's injury and Harvin's issues prompted the Vikings to trade with Miami last week for receiver Greg Camarillo.

The price: veteran nickelback Benny Sapp.

He never really had a shot to start, but Sapp was nothing if not a nice insurance policy.

Now the Vikings have only three NFL-caliber corners healthy as they prepare to face a Saints offense that spreads things out and attacks downfield as well as anyone.

A showdown with the Super Bowl champs, and the Vikings won't have their best receivers or offensive line to safeguard a moored quarterback, either.

Remember this, though.

It doesn't end at the Superdome.

The Vikings didn't get there for the NFC championship game because they have one or two difference-makers.

They survived Henderson's injury. And Harvin's migraines. And cornerback Antoine Winfield's foot problem. And the entire o-line being banged up.

Winfield and Henderson are healthy again. Harvin's back on the field (for now). Favre's mobility isn't exactly a weapon at this point anyway.

Teams win titles because of they have two or three elite playmakers, and even without Rice, the Vikings have that.

Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen are two reasons not to count out this team for anything.

The Week 4 bye looked like a curse when the schedule came out, but now it seems to fall when they might need a break most -- right before a brutal stretch in New York against the Jets, home against Dallas on a short week, then at Green Bay and at New England.

All things considered, a 4-3 start would be a massive victory for these Vikings.

Could expectations for a conference runner-up be dipping any more quickly?

Sure, the injuries and everything else could portend a collapse. Instantaneous declines are possible with any team starting 10 players on the wrong side of age 30.

That doesn't mean make anything inevitable, though. Good or bad.

Too much can happen between now and January.

It starts at the Superdome.

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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