EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings mending center John Sullivan said Thursday that he is encouraged by the progress he's making to recover from back surgery earlier this month.
Sullivan underwent a lumbar microdiscectomy on Sept. 9 for a herniated disc.
Sullivan first encountered the problem as the Vikings were preparing for the Hall of Fame Game in which he and starters played the first series. Sullivan and the Vikings training staff tried giving the injury time, treatment and therapeutic methods that included two epidurals, but placed him on the injured reserve-designated to return list. That designation will allow him to return to practice after six weeks and game action after eight weeks after first placement if he is cleared (click here for a rules refresher).
Two kinds of relief occurred for Sullivan after the operation.
"You go in pre-op in a lot of pain and come out feeling so much better," Sullivan said. "I'm happy to be walking around. I do a lot of walking. That's probably the main therapy for this in terms of recovery."
While it's been disappointing for a player who has started 93 of 109 games he's played, including 57 straight from 2011-14, he's also encouraged that he's on the designated to return list instead of season-ending IR.
"I think they were waiting for some information about how things looked once they got in there," Sullivan said. "To find out that next day that my season is not over, it's just delayed was great news. I have something to look forward to, and I'm going to be back this year helping this team win."
In addition to rehab exercises, Sullivan has met with veteran backup Joe Berger and second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
"We've done some center-quarterback meetings for blitz pickup and looking at pressures teams will bring at us," Sullivan said. "I'm just trying to make sure I'm communicating with them as much as I can about what I see and the calls I feel like are most important."
Sullivan admitted it has been tough to feel like he's not contributing as much as he wants to the team. It was also tough before the operation, he said, to be limited in what he could do to help his wife with their son, who was born the week of the Hall of Fame Game.
"I can lift a baby, yeah. Although I haven't changed too many diapers. It's definitely affected home life a little bit. Pre-op mainly," Sullivan said. "My wife has been awesome and really picked up the slack. It was tough on her basically taking care of two babies. I was pretty useless there for a while. She did a really good job."