MANKATO, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings brought tight end John Carlson in to add another facet to their offense. Now they will have to wait a few weeks before they get the chance to see how he can develop.
Carlson, signed in the offseason from the Seattle Seahawks, suffered a knee injury in Tuesday’s afternoon practice at training camp and coach Leslie Frazier said he could be sidelined for a few weeks. Frazier said the initial diagnosis was a sprained medial collateral ligament, but Carlson still had to have the proper tests.
“They were going to take him to get an MRI,” Frazier said. “They just moved it around and that was their initial diagnosis.”
Carlson, who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, had been working with the second-team base offense during training camp and was expected to be a contributor for the Vikings in two tight-end sets along with second-year tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Frazier said Carlson’s MCL wasn’t torn, but the severity of the injury could mean Carlson’s misses an extended period of training camp. If it’s just a sprain, Carlson likely wouldn’t need surgery and could be ready for the first regular season game.
“If that’s what it turns out to be, you don’t have to have any surgery,” Frazier said. “It heals by itself so it’s a little bit more of a pain-tolerance thing, depending on how he feels.”
Behind Rudolph and Carlson, the Vikings have rookie fourth-round pick Rhett Ellison, along with holdovers Allen Reisner and Mickey Shuler. Shuler started training camp on the non-football injury list with a heel injury, but has practiced in a limited role the past two days.
Wilf preaching patience: After being patient in his efforts to get a new stadium, Vikings’ owner Zygi Wilf says he also has to be patient with his team because of the youth.
Speaking with reporters at training camp Tuesday, Wilf touched on a variety of topics and said his goal for the upcoming season is a division championship, but added that he understands a young team will need time to develop.
“Absolutely, things don’t happen overnight,” Wilf said. “There’s going to be ups and downs and we certainly have had them in this first seven years of ownership, but you have to be patient. As we were patient with the stadium, we’re going to be patient and we’re going to work hard to getting a championship ballclub.”
The Wilfs are starting their eighth season as owners and believe they have a structure in place to eventually succeed in the NFL after promoting Rick Spielman to general manager after last season and keeping Leslie Frazier despite last year’s 3-13 record.
“Leslie’s been working very hard, together with Rick,” Wilf said. “The first time for a long time, I’ve seen a coordination between both personnel director, a general manager as we’ve named him and he is, and Leslie and I think working together gets us the best chance of putting the right guys on the field and being competitive. I have great high hopes for both of them.”
The Vikings aren’t expected to challenge in the competitive NFC North this season, but Wilf said the goal every year is to contend for a division championship and a Super Bowl. He called it “tough” going through last season and refused to label the current situation as rebuilding.
Wilf also preached his support of Frazier and isn’t using wins and losses as a barometer for Frazier, who is entering the second year of a three-year contract with the Vikings.
“I’m not making any benchmarks,” Wilf said. “I’m expecting a winning season. Like I said, I’m expecting to challenge for the division. So, eveyrone starts out 0-0, even score and I’m looking forward to the upcoming season.”
Wilf called it a relief after the state legislature and Minneapolis City Council approved financing for a new $975 million stadium to be built on the current Metrodome site. Wilf said the team is working with the stadium authority to hire designers and said a plan is still in the works.
He echoed the hope for a retractable roof on the facility and said there is a lot of work to be done before ground breaking and the expected opening in 2016.
“We’re going to try our best, as I’ve said before, to get a retractable roof,” Wilf said. “But we’re going to have a certainly retractable element that’s going to be the (state) of the art stadium and it’s going to be something everybody in the state of Minnesota can be proud of.”
Wilf said the Vikings also hope to improve the team’s facilities at Winter Park in Eden Prairie, but the focus is on the stadium plans right now. Wilf is in Mankato for Minnesota’s training camp and annual owner’s meetings.