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Mending Sullivan has backs of Berger, Bridgewater

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — John Sullivan might have become a temporary bystander, but he let veteran backup center Joe Berger and second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater he'll be ready to be by their sides and have their backs while his is recovering.

"Joe and I spoke this morning, and I told him if there's anything I can help with, anything that he sees he wants me to take a look at, whether it's scouting an individual player, overall defensive looks, just let me know that you'd like me to take a look at something specific," Sullivan said Friday, two days after back surgery. "We have incredible coaches with Jeff Davidson and Hank Fraley and our entire offensive staff is really on top of all that, but sometimes it can help to see it from another player's perspective.

"We're the ones on the field actually experiencing it, so I want to be a resource on the field in whatever way I can for Berg or Teddy," Sullivan added. "If Teddy wants me to look at something, the same thing is available for him. My experience is there for those guys."

Sullivan underwent a lumbar microdiscectomy on Wednesday for a herniated disc. He 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 if he is cleared (click **here** for a rules refresher).

"We did everything we could in terms of all the therapeutic options that were available to try to heal everything," Sullivan said. "Unfortunately, it's not 100 percent predictable, so I think we had to take the chance of using what was available to us to try to be ready for Week 1 and we just got unlucky. We made the best decision we possibly could at the time. I'm thankful that I'm on IR-designated to return, that I've got some time to heal, and that I'll be able to contribute to the team in 2015."

Sullivan, a 2008 draft pick who has started 93 of 109 games and 57 in a row, said he thought the surgery went well. He's not familiar with an extensive rehab process but said he has confidence in the Vikings training staff.

"I'm up and walking less than 48 hours after surgery, which is great," Sullivan said. "This is my first experience with back surgery, but Eric Sugarman and his staff are second-to-none in the NFL, and I've got full faith and confidence that they'll have me back and ready to go when it's my time."

Berger, a versatile player capable of playing center and both guard positions, is scheduled to play in his 100th NFL game and make the 39th start of his career.

Sullivan said he has faith in Berger and Bridgewater to develop a rapport for handling protection calls.

"I work alongside Teddy," Sullivan explained of protection schemes. "Ultimately when it comes down to it, the quarterback is the trump card, so as an offensive lineman, especially as a center, your job is making sure that Teddy is as comfortable as possible because it all starts and ends with him.

"Teddy and Berger, I'm sure they've been building that up over the past few weeks," Sullivan said. "It's actually fortunate they've had that time to work together. I'll be cheering just as hard as anybody, hoping we're 7-0 when I come back."

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