Season-ending injuries lead to more changes for Vikings

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 30, 2011 - 1:08 PM

Four starters -- Michael Jenkins, Cullen Loeffler, Husain Abdullah and Tyrell Johnson -- were placed on injured reserve.

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Vikings wide receiver Michael Jenkins, shown during the loss to Oakland, has been placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Photo: Jim Mone, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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The downward spiral continues at Winter Park.

If it seemed things couldn't get much worse for the Vikings, who are off to a 2-9 start and threatening to become the worst team in franchise history, they'll now enter the final month with four key contributors lost for the season.

On Tuesday, a quartet of starters -- receiver Michael Jenkins, long snapper Cullen Loeffler and safeties Husain Abdullah and Tyrell Johnson -- were all placed on injured reserve, another major gut punch to a team that is sinking fast.

To fill the holes, the Vikings re-signed receiver Stephen Burton to the active roster and also agreed to terms with long-snapper Matt Katula and safeties Jarrad Page and Andrew Sendejo.

The loss of Jenkins registers as the most surprising news. The eight-year receiver, who had 38 catches for 466 yards and three touchdowns this season, suffered a knee injury at some point during Sunday's 24-14 loss in Atlanta.

The Vikings did not disclose the specifics of Jenkins' injury; more detail will surface Wednesday. But it's serious enough to be season-ending and is significant in that Jenkins' absence will leave rookie quarterback Christian Ponder to finish the season with a cast of receivers that is now even more mediocre than before.

Just how much is the deck stacked against Ponder? He now has only one wide receiver remaining who has recorded at least 10 catches this season -- Percy Harvin with 51 grabs.

Abdullah, meanwhile, started the first nine games at free safety. But he suffered a concussion in a 45-7 loss in Green Bay two weeks ago. And Tuesday, the team decided it was best to put him on the shelf for the year.

Same goes for Johnson, who suffered a severe hamstring injury early in the second quarter in Atlanta.

Four minutes later, Loeffler absorbed a massive blindside hit while in punt coverage, fracturing his sacrum near the tailbone.

Loeffler had started 123 consecutive regular-season games for the Vikings. Defensive end Jared Allen assumed Loeffler's duties Sunday and will be relieved by Katula, who is in his seventh NFL season.

Katula saw action in eight games last season in New England after spending the previous five years in Baltimore. He's now suddenly a Viking and will be joined on the practice field Wednesday by three other new faces.

Page, a 27-year-old safety out of UCLA, is in his sixth NFL season. He began this season with the Eagles, starting the first five games and contributing 36 tackles. Philadelphia, however, cut him two weeks ago.

As for Sendejo, he went undrafted out of Rice in 2010 and initially caught on professionally with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL.

He has seen action in only two NFL games -- as a reserve with the Cowboys late last season.

As a trivia footnote: Sendejo was a teammate of Corey Frazier, the son of Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, at Rice in 2009.

None of the Vikings' newest roster additions is likely to figure into the team's long-term plans.

With the Broncos coming to town Sunday, a frustrating season continues to get worse. Jamarca Sanford and rookie Mistral Raymond will be the starting safeties with Page and Sendejo in backup roles.

It also remains to be seen whether star running back Adrian Peterson (ankle), cornerback Asher Allen (shoulder) and rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph (quadriceps) will heal fast enough to play.

  • VIKINGS Up next: Noon Sunday vs. Denver • TV: Ch. 9 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

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