MANKATO – Vikings Pro Bowler Jerome Felton likely will miss the rest of the preseason after undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday afternoon.
The veteran fullback attended the team’s morning walk-through on the final full day of training camp but was absent from the afternoon practice. It turns out Felton was rushed back to the Twin Cities for surgery to remove his appendix.
The Vikings confirmed the surgery, which was first reported by the Star Tribune via Twitter, and shortly afterward Felton (@jfelton45) tweeted: Thanks for the well wishes everybody, I’ll b fine, surgery went great and I’ll b out there soon! #SkolVikings
The timeline for Felton’s recovery should be approximately two weeks. But it’s almost certain the team will keep Felton out of game action until the regular season opens Sept. 8 in Detroit.
The Vikings will play their second preseason game Friday night at Buffalo and follow nine days later with an NBC-televised “Football Night in America” contest at San Francisco. The preseason finale will be Aug. 29 at Mall of America Field against Tennessee. But significant starters, even if fully healthy, aren’t expected to play in that contest.
Felton enjoyed a major breakthrough in his first season with the Vikings in 2012, using his toughness and tenacity as Adrian Peterson’s lead blocker to earn a Pro Bowl invitation. Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards on his way to MVP honors and has said that Felton’s efforts blocking in front of him may have been “worth 600-700 yards over the course of the season. Maybe more than that.”
Competition heats up
The Vikings finished their three-week stint at Minnesota State Mankato on Wednesday, and coach Leslie Frazier said it’s too early to determine exactly how many spots will be open at each position on the team’s 53-man roster.
That list must be finalized Aug. 31, but with so many moving parts in play, special teams roles, practice squad candidates and preseason game performances all will be taken into account.
The Vikings have obvious depth on the defensive line and at safety. And the team’s hardest roster decisions might come at receiver and linebacker.
The Vikings’ top four receivers are Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarius Wright. But it’s still not certain whether the team will keep one or two more with Joe Webb and Stephen Burton in the mix, plus Chris Summers and Adam Thielen showing promise.
“It’s too early right now to order them,” Frazier said. “I want us to be able to get a few more game situations under our belt.”
At linebacker, Erin Henderson and Chad Greenway are locked in as starters. That leaves Marvin Mitchell and Desmond Bishop competing for the weakside spot. In addition, the Vikings have two draft picks — fourth-rounder Gerald Hodges and seventh-rounder Michael Mauti — they are rallying behind, plus continued admiration for Audie Cole’s development. On top of that, Larry Dean and Tyrone McKenzie are established standout special teams contributors. So even if the Vikings go heavier at the position and keep seven instead of six, the decisions will be tough.
“Our backup linebackers are generally some of our core special teams players,” Frazier said. “So not only do you have to be good on defense as a backup. But we need you to be a solid special teams player for us.”
Four times two is …?
Vikings starters will see a lot of first-half action in the next two preseason games. That’s good news for quarterback Christian Ponder, who played only one series and threw only two passes — one a completion and one an interception — in Friday’s loss to Houston at Mall of America Field.
“Hopefully I can more than quadruple that number,” he joked. “And hopefully play a lot more … I guess the plan is at least a quarter.
“… These next two games are crucial for us as an offense — we’re going to get a lot of snaps,” Ponder added.
|Univ of Minnesota||1||FINAL|
|Cleveland||117||4th Qtr 0:27|
|Denver||81||4th Qtr 9:07|
|Detroit||68||3rd Qtr 9:41|
|LA Lakers||71||3rd Qtr 0:44|
|Philadelphia||90||3rd Qtr 0:27|
|Memphis||89||4th Qtr 7:38|
|Sacramento||38||3rd Qtr 12:00|
|Ottawa||3||3rd Prd 12:28|
|NY Rangers||1||3rd Prd|
|SE Missouri St||74||FINAL|
|Mount St Marys||58|
|Wake Forest||51||2nd Half 0:54|
|Purdue||44||2nd Half 4:03|
|Miami-Florida||64||2nd Half 0:26|
|St Bonaventure||64||2nd Half 0:37|
|New Mexico St||66||2nd Half 2:10|
|Houston||57||2nd Half 1:12|
|Cincinnati||27||1st Half 0:07|
|USC||35||1st Half 0:05|
|Miss State||36||2nd Half|
|Utah State||30||2nd Half|
|St Johns||24||1st Half 3:39|
|SIU Edwardsville||19||1st Half 7:38|
|Air Force||9:00 PM|
|Colorado State||9:00 PM|
|Boise State||9:00 PM|
|San Jose St|
|San Diego St||10:00 PM|
|UC Santa Barbara||10:59 PM|
|Coll of Charleston||58||FINAL|
|William & Mary||68|
|Purdue||49||2nd Half 4:32|
|Aug 8 - vs. Oakland||7 pm||X||10-6|
|Aug 16 - vs. Arizona||7:30 pm||X||30-28|
|Aug 23 - at Kansas City||7 pm||X||30-12|
|Aug 28 - at Tennessee||7 pm||X||19-3|
|2014 regular season|
|Sep 7 - at St. Louis||Noon||X||34-6|
|Sep 14 - vs. New England||Noon||X||30-7|
|Sep 21 - at New Orleans||Noon||X||20-9|
|Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta||3:25 pm||X||41-28|
|Oct 2 - at Green Bay||7:25 pm||X||42-10|
|Oct 12 - vs. Detroit||Noon||X||17-3|
|Oct 19 - at. Buffalo||Noon||X||17-16|
|Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay||Noon||X||19-13 ot|
|Nov 2 - vs. Washington||Noon||X||29-26|
|Nov 9 - Bye|
|Nov 16 - at Chicago||Noon||X||21-13|
|Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay||Noon||X||24-21|
|Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina||Noon||X||31-13|
|Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets||Noon||X||30-24 ot|
|Dec 14 - at Detroit||3:25 pm||X||16-14|
|Dec 21 - at Miami||Noon||X||37-35|
|Dec 28 - vs. Chicago||Noon||X||13-9|
Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?