EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Less than eight months after he tore the patellar tendon in his right knee against the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings tight end Rhett Ellison was back at practice on Tuesday, having been taken off the physically unable to perform list.
Ellison's return happened quicker than coach Mike Zimmer expected, and the Vikings' decision to take him off the PUP list would suggest they believe he'll be ready for the start of the regular season. Their only alternatives at this point would be to release him or put him on injured reserve if he wasn't healthy enough to make the 53-man roster. As valuable as the Vikings have found Ellison to be in the past -- and given the fact they went out of their way to re-sign him while he was injured this spring -- it seems likely he'll be on the roster to start the season.
"Rhett's worked extremely hard," Zimmer said. "He's a team guy through and through. ... He's been over there on the side working as hard as he can. He's probably ahead of schedule."
The tight end's 2016 contract with the Vikings has an injury split that prorates his deal from $428,000 to $760,000 each week he is on the Vikings' 53-man roster, and he can earn up to $790,000 in roster bonuses for each week he is on the 46-man roster. Ellison also can earn up to $500,000 in playing-time incentives. If he does what he did last year, when he played 46 percent of the Vikings' offensive snaps, he'd earn an extra $150,000 in incentives. And if he can prove he's fully recovered from his injury, he could make the case for a multi-year deal in the future.
Here are some other notes and observations from Tuesday's practice:
Teddy Bridgewater returned to throwing passes and backup quarterback Shaun Hill was a full participant in practice on Tuesday after resting on Saturday and Sunday following his two quarters of work last Thursday in Seattle. While Bridgewater mostly stuck to shorter throws, Hill was running a full set of plays on Tuesday, connecting with Cordarrelle Patterson on a throw down the left sideline. Including Bridgewater, Hill, Joel Stave, Brad Sorensen and Taylor Heinicke (whose tweet on Tuesday afternoon indicated he was getting the cast removed from his left foot), the Vikings had five quarterbacks on the field.
Left tackle Matt Kalil did some individual work after limping off the practice field on Sunday, but T.J. Clemmings was the first-team left tackle for most of the practice. John Sullivan was with the top offensive group at center on Tuesday.