Vikings' Sullivan out until at least Week 9 after spinal surgery

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Teddy Bridgewater's on-field bodyguards are down another man for at least the first half of the season as the team announced that starting center John Sullivan underwent a procedure on his back and was placed on injured reserve Thursday.

Sullivan, who hasn't practiced in more than three weeks because of back spasms, underwent a lumbar microdiscectomy on Wednesday and was placed on IR with a designation to return. Per NFL rules, he's not allowed to play until after Week 8.

Veteran lineman Joe Berger will start in place of Sullivan. Berger started the final two preseason games while Sullivan was out.

The statement released by the Vikings:

Sullivan underwent a lumbar microdiscectomy on Wednesday. Teams are able to place one player per season on IR/designated for return. Players placed on IR/designated for return are eligible to return to practice after 6 weeks and to games after 8 weeks. Sullivan does not count on the Vikings 53-man roster. The current roster stands at 52 players.

Major offensive line concerns

The injury to Sullivan is the second severe injury Minnesota's offensive line has suffered. Right tackle Phil Loadholt is out for the season with a torn achilles.

Even before Sullivan went down, Chip Scoggins was writing in the Star Tribune about his worries about the offensive line.

  • LT: Matt Kalil – entering a "make-or-break" year
  • LG: Brandon Fusco – switched positions from right guard
  • C: Joe Berger – he's a backup
  • RG: Mike Harris – a converted tackle
  • RT: T.J. Clemmings – rookie from Pittsburgh

Sullivan can begin practicing with the team following Week 6, but Darren Wolfson speculates that Sullivan simply returning by Week 9 is a bit "aggressive."

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