Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph has a fractured left foot and could be out for a month, coach Leslie Frazier said Monday.
Rudolph suffered the injury after scoring on a 31-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter of the Vikings’ 27-23 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday in Arlington, Texas. He dragged a couple of Dallas defenders into the end zone on the play, and his left foot twisted awkwardly in the process.
“I think the guy just fell on his foot when he was tackling him,” Frazier said. “It’s a very significant injury for him and for our team.”
The MVP of the Pro Bowl last season, Rudolph leads the team with three touchdown receptions and has been a favorite target of quarterback Christian Ponder.
Two starting offensive linemen also were injured Sunday. Right tackle Phil Loadholt (concussion) is likely to miss Thursday’s game against Washington at Mall of America Field, and left guard Charlie Johnson (elbow) did not participate in the team’s walk-through practice Monday.
The Vikings defensive backfield continues to be plagued by injuries. Rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes (shoulder) was a limited participant in the walkthrough after leaving Sunday’s game, and Josh Robinson (chest) also was limited. Cornerback Chris Cook (hip) was limited; he missed Sunday’s game along with starting safety Jamarca Sanford (groin), who did not participate Monday.
Without Rudolph, the Vikings have two tight ends available with John Carlson and Chase Ford, who has bounced between the practice squad and the 53-man roster all season. Tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle) is already sidelined.
Ponder will start
Ponder will get this third consecutive start at quarterback on Thursday. Frazier said he was encouraged by Ponder’s performance in Dallas as he went 25-for-37 for 236 yards and a touchdown with an interception. Ponder also scrambled four times for 29 yards and a touchdown.
“He was more confident in some of the things that he did, more controlled,” Frazier said. “I liked the decisions that he made when he had to escape the pocket, getting out of trouble and avoiding sacks. There are some things he can do better, obviously.”
Frazier mentioned Ponder’s interception in the fourth quarter as one of the negatives in his performance. But the Vikings implemented a no-huddle offense as part of the game plan, which Frazier felt Ponder was effective running.
”He really seemed comfortable there,” Frazier said. “We thought he would, the way he had practiced. He did a good job of directing our team.”
Back with Dad
Frazier said offensive quality control coach Klint Kubiak left the team Monday to be with his father, Texans coach Gary Kubiak, in Houston.
Gary Kubiak collapsed on the sideline as he was running into the tunnel at halftime during Sunday night’s game against the Colts and remained hospitalized Monday. He was being evaluated for strokelike symptoms.
It was the second occurrence of an NFL head coach hospitalized over the weekend. Broncos coach John Fox complained of chest pains Saturday and had aortic heart valve replacement surgery Monday. The Broncos are unsure when Fox will return with the team.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to [the Kubiaks], along with John Fox and his family as well,” Frazier said. “It’s a challenging job, without question. My former coach, Mike Ditka, I saw him experience a similar fate, dealing with stress issues while he was coaching. You try to take care of your body. You try to create some balance, even during the season. You have to be able to do that. It can be all-consuming, if you allow it. You have to try to create some balance.”