EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings tight end Rhett Ellison is done for the season with a torn patellar tendon in his right knee that will require surgery and a six-month recovery.
Coach Mike Zimmer revealed the timetable for Ellison, a key run blocker and a reliable receiver on the limited occasions the ball has been thrown his way. He has lined up as a fullback at times, too, making him one of the most versatile players in the offence.
He’ll be missed when Minnesota hosts Seattle on Sunday in a wild-card game.
"It’s huge. He’s a heck of a player. He’s a great leader. He does the dirty work that nobody else can do," wide receiver Adam Thielen said Monday. "He’s a tough guy to replace, but we’ll do our best."
Kyle Rudolph is the primary tight end, but the Vikings have frequently used formations with two or three tight ends. Ellison’s absence for the playoffs, then, will elevate the role of rookie MyCole Pruitt, a fifth-round draft pick from Southern Illinois.
"MyCole can do quite a bit that Rhett does. There’s something that Rhett obviously does better than MyCole, but there’s some things that MyCole does better as well," Zimmer said. "So we’ll just have to look at that mix and see how we can kind of adapt."
Ellison has 458 yards and three touchdowns receiving over four years since being drafted in the fourth round from USC. His rookie contract will expire in March.
Running back Adrian Peterson missed part of the game at Green Bay because of lower-back spasms, but he returned to action and said he’d play against the Seahawks. Peterson, who played in all 16 games this season for the fourth time in his nine-year career, had X-rays done on his spine that showed no damage.
"It’s a little tight, but I’ll be OK," he said after the Vikings beat the Packers 20-13 to win the NFC North division.
Thielen left the game at Green Bay after aggravating an injury to his left shoulder, leaving his status in question this week. The backup and special teams standout had two key carries for 67 yards, including a 41-yard gain on a fake punt in the first quarter that set up a field goal.
The defence, beat up a bit down the stretch, is healthier now. Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph has missed four of the last five games with a toe injury, the biggest reason for concern on that side of the ball.