Vikings counting on John Sullivan for camp

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan didn't miss a play last season in what many considered a Pro Bowl-caliber performance. Yet offseason microfracture surgery on his left knee has cost him every snap of offseason workouts so far, and he is not expected to participate in the final two days of mandatory minicamp this week.

The nature of Sullivan's surgery and his extended layoff makes it fair at least to ask if he will be ready for training camp. Coach Leslie Frazier said Tuesday that he is planning on Sullivan's full recovery by late July and added: "From what I've been told, there should not be any restrictions."

It makes perfect sense to mandate offseason rest for an established starter after significant offseason surgery. Sullivan, entering his sixth season, doesn't need organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamps as much as say, right guard Brandon Fusco, who is entering his second year as a starter.

Of course, the most notable clue on the Vikings' true assessment of Sullivan's situation can be found in their personnel moves, as we discussed when the surgery occurred in February. The Vikings clearly weren't moved to acquire a player who could replace Sullivan on a longer-term basis.

They didn't draft a center, nor did they sign a free agent who projects as a starter. To this point, all they've done is bring back veteran backup Joe Berger with a one-year deal that included a $65,000 signing bonus. Berger has worked the position in Sullivan's place but figures as a backup center/guard during the season. At this point, it appears, all is well.