TE John Carlson went down with a sprained MCL earlier in the week, and his return is expected to be between 1-2 weeks. Given offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s predilection toward two tight end sets, Carlson’s absence creates an opportunity for younger players to make an impression.

The remaining tight ends on the roster include Allen Reisner and Mickey Shuler, both second-year players who spent time with the Vikings last season. As much as each player knows Musgrave’s offense, the Vikings know them as well, so perhaps the Carlson void provides the greatest opportunity for rookie FB/TE Rhett Ellisonto catch a coach’s eye. 

Ellison has taken advantage of some reps with the first team, and he hasn’t looked out of place. Musgrave said the coaches were a little surprised by Ellison’s route running and pass catching ability once they saw him at the combine and now in camp.

“He probably does have better hands than we were aware of after studying his college tapes,” Musgrave said.

Musgrave is quick to compliment all three tight ends, saying they have good skills, and even though they are making mistakes, they aren’t “repeat mistake offenders.”

Musgrave said they are watching the reps the younger players get in Carlson’s absence because he doesn’t want to wear them down. But the opportunity for one of the three players to separate himself from the others is ripe with the first preseason game only a week away.

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