The Vikings players are trickling out to Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato as I write this, but before the final night practice of this year’s training camp, head coach Mike Zimmer gave some injury updates.

The biggest news is that tight end Chase Ford, who suffered a stress fracture in his left foot during spring workouts, is coming close to a return. He is off crutches and out of a walking boot, and he was wearing cleats this morning at the walkthrough.

“He’s close. Probably 10 days maybe, I’m guessing,” Zimmer said.

It’s too early to tell if Ford will be removed from the physically-unable-to-perform list before the start of the regular season. Zimmer and the training staff need to see how he responds to running and cutting and things like that. If he starts on PUP, he must sit out the first six weeks. But the fact that he could be back on the field in a couple of weeks bodes well for his chances of avoiding that.

Speaking of tight ends, Zimmer also talked about the decision to sign veteran Kory Sperry.

“This guy’s more of a blocking kind of guy,” Zimmer said. “We felt like we needed a little more power at the point of attack. We worked him out prior to, I guess when we signed [tight end] Mike Higgins, and we felt we needed more without Chase. We were a guy short.”

Elsewhere on the injury front, Zimmer expects safety Mistral Raymond to return to practice and cornerbacks Josh Robinson (hamstring) and Marcus Sherels (hamstring) to continue practicing. Safety Jamarca Sanford (back) and defensive tackle Tom Johnson (bicep) will also try to practice. Sanford sat out the preseason opener and Johnson was injured in that game.

Furthermore, Zimmer expects all safeties not named Robert Blanton (hamstring) to suit up Saturday against the Cardinals, and he said there is a chance that Chris Crocker, who did not play against the Raiders because he was new to the team, could start alongside Harrison Smith.

Zimmer said he is hopeful that he and his staff will finally be able to get a true evaluation of the safety position now that players such as Sanford and Andrew Sendejo are healthy enough to practice and Crocker has knocked some of the rust off after remaining unsigned until a week ago.

“It’s difficult because guys aren’t practicing as much. In the ballgame the other night, we had three safeties that were left playing,” Zimmer said. “I anticipate that they should all play this week [except for Blanton]. So tomorrow we’ll sit down and try to get a much better evaluation of the guys we think we need to see more on tape. And this will be a good test because [the Cardinals] play with four wides and throw the ball around pretty good.”

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