EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings right guard Brandon Fusco, who tore a pectoral muscle while blocking a New Orleans Saints defender on Sunday, will have surgery in New York on Monday and begin a four-month rehab process that will consume the rest of his season.
Fusco, whom the Vikings signed to a five-year contract extension the day before they began the regular season, said he felt a pop in his chest in the second half of Sunday's game and knew immediately something was wrong. He played two more snaps with the injury and did not return after that.
"I've always been healthy my whole life. It's something that's new to me," Fusco said. "I have to get surgery and go from there; rehab, work hard and come back stronger next year."
Vlad Ducasse, who replaced Fusco on Sunday, continued to work with the first team during practice on Wednesday and was back with the group in the portion of Thursday's practice open to the media. Coach Mike Zimmer said on Wednesday the Vikings would likely "start off with one guy and see how that goes," and it appears Ducasse will get the first shot to hold onto the job.
"He’s a big, physical player and he’s worked awfully hard since he’s gotten here to get in there," offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. "I think he’s improved a great deal in his pass protection. We know those guys are going to be challenged. Not only do you have a new guy in there but he’s new working, he’s new to our system, so he’s new working with the right tackle, working with the center. That’s the one thing in the offensive line: Continuity is so critical and we just have to be prepared for the different looks they give us."
Fusco might be the Vikings' best offensive lineman, and is certainly among their most integral players in the running game. His absence might be felt more there than anywhere else. The Vikings were making use of him early this season as a pulling guard on power running plays. Now, they'll have to try to survive without him.
"When you're the backup, you expect it," Ducasse said. "You have to be ready every week. Me jumping in, it shouldn't be a surprise to me. I have to go with that mindset."