By the time the Minnesota Vikings line up in Detroit on Sunday, defensive tackle Christian Ballard will have been absent from the team for three weeks. In that time, the Vikings went from 90 players to 53, and while it stands to reason that Ballard would have made the team and helped in the Vikings' defensive line rotation, the chances of him getting back on that path seem remote now.
That became clearer on Wednesday, when coach Leslie Frazier said he hadn't talked to Ballard in about a week and admitted the Vikings are planning to move forward assuming the third-year defensive tackle, who was placed on the Reserve/Left Squad list on Aug. 18, won't be coming back.
"If he decides he wants to come back, he would have to go through us before he could go to another team," Frazier said. "I think you have to approach it that way (like he won't return). We've got to get these guys ready to play that are here and practicing every day. We've got to move forward."
Frazier still hasn't said what caused Ballard to leave the team, other than to classify it as "personal issues," but it's probably safe to assume at this point that the tackle doesn't factor prominently in the Vikings' plans. They could use him this week, with Kevin Williams and Sharrif Floyd coming back from injuries, but there appears to be no plan to put Ballard back on the roster anytime soon.