EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Coach Mike Zimmer was back at work following a Tuesday procedure for kidney stones and several of the Minnesota Vikings were getting back to work on Wednesday, as well.
Center John Sullivan is still in the testing phase to be cleared for a concussion, but Minnesota had right guard Vladimir Ducasse back at practice on Wednesday after Ducasse and Sullivan left last Sunday’s game on the same play. Their absences left the Vikings without any healthy backups with Joe Berger and Mike Harris entering the game.
Ducasse, dealing with a knee injury, was given a magnetic resonance imaging test and was back at practice Wednesday on a limited a basis.
"I think they should both be fine (for Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay)," Zimmer said Wednesday.
Zimmer said Sullivan hasn’t been cleared of his concussion yet, but has passed a portion of the testing protocol.
"He’s passed his first whatever, protocol test or whatever, so I’d assume that he’ll be fine," Zimmer said.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph, who has been out since Week 3 after double sports hernia surgery, participated in the team stretch at the beginning of practice for the first time since surgery and did running on the side with an athletic trainer.
Linebacker Gerald Hodges, who missed last week with a hamstring injury, also did running on the side.
Defensive end Corey Wootton, who didn’t practice last week and was held out Sunday with a low back injury, returned to practice on Wednesday on a limited basis. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was limited with an ankle injury, but the elbow injury he had been listed with was taken off the Vikings’ injury report. Cornerback Jabari Price (hamstring) and safety Antone Exum (ankle) were limited.
Zimmer was recovering himself after dealing with kidney stones for much of the past few days and having a procedure on Tuesday.
"Yesterday was not pleasant, at all," Zimmer said. "But (head athletic trainer) Eric Sugarman was talking to the team today and I said to get the video of the procedure that I had done and that we’d show the team. I think there would have been some throwing up or something."
McKinnon does the work: Zimmer praised rookie running back Jerick McKinnon’s effort on Sunday when he became the first running back to run for more than 100 yards against the Buffalo Bills. McKinnon ran for 103 yards as Minnesota finished with 158 yards as a team.
After saying Matt Asiata would have more of a role in a split backfield situation, McKinnon had 19 carries to six for Asiata.
"Jerick played well last week and that really has no bearing on what Matt has done," Zimmer said. "I still like Matt a lot. I probably shouldn’t pigeon-hole myself by saying this number of reps or carries or something like that.
"Jerick has played well. I thought he did better in pass protection last week. I thought he ran the ball physically last week and he has a chance to make explosive plays and that has nothing to do with Matt. I still think Matt is a very, very good back. I think when you talk about change-of-pace sometimes a change-of-pace is different than what you think about. I still think that he gives us a lot of things."
Not a must-win: Zimmer was asked Wednesday whether Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay (1-5) is a "must-win."
Despite the Vikings losing three games in a row, Zimmer downplayed any "must-win" talk.
"I hate getting into the ‘must win’ things but it’s important for our football team that we win," Zimmer said. "It’s probably more important the process of playing well, doing things right, eliminating penalties, the things we did last week that didn’t allow us to win the football game."
Zimmer has also preached about the process of developing his young team in his first season as coach, but he said wins are still the most important factor.
"I do think that teams, I think you can get a false sense of security even if you’re winning if you’re not doing things correctly," Zimmer said. "So, it’s important for me that I keep stressing the things that are important to be a good football team, to win games, and winning is definitely the most important but I think for our guys to understand what causes us to win, what causes us to lose, those things are I guess not equally as important but secondarily important."