It’s getting tougher by the day for coach Leslie Frazier to project a positive outlook during a 2-9 season that reached an even lower low Tuesday when four key contributors ended up on injured reserve.
“I don’t know many times you’d ever see four guys go on injured reserve on the same day; it just doesn’t happen very often to anybody,” Frazier said Wednesday as the Vikings returned to practice in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Broncos at Mall of America Field. “But in our business, there are no excuses, as you know. You got to line up and play. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you. We really believe in that next-man-up mentality.”
Of course, the Vikings are running out of men. Or at least ones that are any good and are familiar to the Vikings. On Tuesday, long-snapper Cullen Loeffler (fractured lower back), receiver Michael Jenkins (knee) and safeties Husain Abdullah (concussion) and Tyrell Johnson (torn hamstring) were placed on injured reserve.
Defensively, rookie sixth-round draft pick Mistral Raymond will start and be backed up by Jarrad Page, a six-year veteran who was signed off the street on Tuesday. Page started for Philadelphia earlier this season before being released. At cornerback, Benny Sapp, who was out of work just two weeks ago, could become the fourth different player to start at left cornerback if Asher Allen (shoulder) doesn’t heal in time.
Meanwhile, the pickings are just as slim at receiver. With Jenkins going down, the Vikings have only one receiver — Percy Harvin — with more than nine catches on the season. Harvin, a slot receiver, is the No. 1 receiver by default.Devin Aromashodu, who has nine catches, is the No. 2 receiver, and veteran journeyman Greg Camarillo, who has four catches, becomes the No. 3 receiver.
The team also will be working in rookie sixth-round draft pick Stephen Burton on Sunday. Burton made the team despite a horrendous training camp. He was on the practice squad the first seven weeks. After spending three weeks on the active roster, he was released last week and then re-signed when Jenkins was injured.