It was some sort of miracle that Adrian Peterson came just 9 yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s rushing record last season with the anchor of the Vikings offensive line, center John Sullivan, blocking on a knee that needed surgery in the offseason. While Sullivan, the humble person he is, says that he was never injured, he does admit that “it was more of a degenerative condition in my knee that, once the season was over, needed to be taken care of.”
“Well it was a situation where I would play through it but there was some pain,” he explained. “I had some issues in the range of motion with my knee. So it was determined by the doctors that the best course of action was just to get it fixed in the offseason.”
Sullivan does admit that because of the surgery he missed a lot of the offseason conditioning, “but I feel like I’m getting better each and every day. So yeah, we’ll see how 2013 goes.”
So with a Sullivan who is 100 percent healthy and maybe the best center in the NFL, there is reason to think the Vikings can improve on their overall offensive production in 2013.
Along that same line, Sullivan is optimistic that Peterson will continue to run up big numbers because every starter from the 2012 offensive line is back.
“Continuity is huge,” the former Notre Dame player said. “We’re very happy that we have all five starters returning, but we just need to keep going out and working every single day to get better.”
Asked whether this team can match or exceed last season’s 10-6 record that got it in the playoffs, Sullivan said: “It is hard to put expectations. We’re striving to be the best team that we can be, and that would mean better than 10-6.”
Sullivan believes that, as happened in 2012, the 2013 draftees are going to contribute greatly.
“Three first-round picks, obviously our front office did a great job. I like all three of the first-rounders for sure. Cordarrelle [Patterson, receiver] has looked great in the return game and has very strong hands in the receiving game,” Sullivan said. “Xavier [Rhodes] has made some big plays out there [in the secondary], made a big one against Buffalo. I know Sharrif [Floyd] has dealt with some [injuries] recently, but he’s a force there on the inside and he’s only going to get better as he gets older.”
Speaking about his opinion regarding the value of the preseason games. Sullivan said: “It’s not that they don’t mean anything. They are opportunities to go out there and get better, but you can’t read too much into the outcomes.”
Sullivan said there has been a lot more planning for the 49ers game than there was for the previous two games.
“Obviously it’s the third week so your starters play the most,” he said. “But at the same time it is a preseason game. We’re coming back tomorrow and playing against the Vikings defense, not San Francisco’s. That’s just the way it goes right now.”
Does Sullivan think this season can be one of his best?
“Absolutely,” he said. “I’m striving to be a better player in 2013 than I have ever been in my career.”
Grant nearly three-time Vikings coach
Three people I respect a lot as coaches — Bud Grant, Lou Holtz and Bobby Knight — have written some of the best sports and motivation books that I have read.
Naturally, I’m a little prejudiced because all three are good friends. But Knight and Grant have come out with terrific new books recently.
Grant has an interesting item in his book, “I Did It My Way,” which tells the story about Grant’s potential opportunity to succeed Mike Tice as Vikings head coach in 2005. Negotiations didn’t go far because team owner Red McCombs couldn’t come close to matching the salary Grant wanted.