Vikings center Pat Elflein, who left the locker room on crutches and with his left foot in a walking boot after the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, will need offseason surgery, coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday.
A league source said the rookie is working with Dr. Robert Anderson, the foot and ankle surgeon who joined the Green Bay Packers’ medical staff last summer and opened a clinic in the team’s new Titletown development. Anderson performed offseason ankle surgery last March on Packers center Corey Linsley, whom Elflein backed up as a freshman at Ohio State. No date for Elflein’s surgery has been set, the source said.
Zimmer said “there’s lots of guys that need surgeries,” but added there was “nothing major.”
No other coaching changes planned
The Vikings will have to find a new offensive coordinator, with Pat Shurmur leaving to become the New York Giants coach. But Zimmer said he plans to keep the rest of the team’s coaching staff intact.
“The first thing [in the offseason] is, making sure the coaches’ [contracts] and everything is done,” Zimmer said. “We’re going to try to renew a lot of them. And then the Senior Bowl is going on, so we’ll start working on free agents. We’ll start working on the draft, and the self-scout. We’ve kind of outlined everything from now until winter conditioning [in April].”
Improved offensive line
The Vikings spent much of the 2017 offseason trying to fix an offensive line that had been ravaged by injuries and underwhelming performances the previous year. Now that the season is over, Zimmer said he was happy with the group’s improvement.
“I felt like our personnel department did a really good job getting guys in here,” Zimmer said. “I thought [offensive line coach] Tony Sparano did a really good job. We started out the season with basically five different starters on the offensive line. Those guys played together. They’re good athletes. The guys we brought in here had the right demeanor and attitude. I was able to talk to a couple of them yesterday when they left. They really liked how things went.”
The Vikings ended the season with left guard Nick Easton on injured reserve because of a fractured ankle, triggering Mike Remmers’ move from right tackle to left guard while Rashod Hill started at right tackle in the playoffs. Right guard Joe Berger, who has said he likely will retire after the season, moved back to center in the NFC title game after Elflein’s injury, with Jeremiah Sirles stepping in at right guard.
“We moved guys around a lot in that spot, because you can only dress seven on gameday,” Zimmer said. “It’s important to be able to have some flexibility there.”
No Super Bowl for Zimmer
With Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium, the New England Patriots will occupy the Vikings’ practice facility in Eden Prairie for practices next week, in what likely will be the last act for the 37-year-old complex before the Vikings move their operations to Eagan in March.
Zimmer, who was headed to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Tuesday, was traveling to his ranch in northern Kentucky. He said he won’t attend the Super Bowl.
Asked about the Vikings’ impending move across the metro area and his thoughts about leaving Winter Park, Zimmer glanced up at the Vikings’ four NFC championship banners in the south end zone of the team’s indoor fieldhouse.
“One of the things I want to do is put up another one of those banners,” Zimmer said. “We’ve put some [division championship banners] up on the other side [of the fieldhouse]. I come in here, and I look at Bud Grant’s picture on the [north] end of this fieldhouse every day.”