MANKATO, Minn. (AP) -Brian Robison was back on the field to watch part of Monday afternoon's practice, though his leg felt tight and sore. The next step will be running, expected next week. After that it's a return to full practice, perhaps in two weeks.
The Vikings defensive end, slotted as Jared Allen's backup following a productive rookie season, had surgery last week to repair a varicose vein problem in his left leg. Robison said he actually had two blood clots taken out as the entire vein was removed during a procedure that lasted nearly two hours.
He will be welcomed back, whenever he's ready. Jayme Mitchell suffered a season-ending knee injury in Friday's exhibition game, and he was placed on injured reserve Monday along with linebacker Heath Farwell and guard Mike Jones. Defensive end Kenechi Udeze is out all year while he recovers from leukemia and a bone-marrow transplant.
Given the back injury that kept Ray Edwards out of the first five days of training camp, depth at defensive end could be a concern. Otis Grigsby is the other backup, and tackle Ellis Wyms could see some snaps there.
``Everybody is looking for that guy at that position,'' defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. ``Everybody wants depth in the interior line and at the defensive end. So I'm sure we're not the only ones scouring the waiver wire for guys like that.''
Rookie Chris Norwell, out of Illinois, was signed as a defensive end Monday - along with offensive tackles Sean Dumford and Brock Pasteur. They took the roster spots of the three players put on IR.
Robison said he will be ready to play in the season opener on Sept. 8 against Green Bay, with a ``slight'' chance of appearing in the final exhibition game against Dallas on Aug. 28.
``If I could be out there today, I'd be out there today,'' Robison said. ``But it's one of those things where you don't want to come back too fast because it could sideline you for even a couple more weeks.''
Offensive tackles Marcus Johnson (knee) and Drew Radovich (shoulder), defensive tackle Kenderick Allen (wrist), and safeties Madieu Williams (neck) and Tyrell Johnson (abdomen) were all held out of action on Monday, too.
The costliest injury, both in terms of recovery time and player value, was to Farwell. Undrafted out of San Diego State, Farwell made the team as a rookie in 2005 and was voted Minnesota's special teams MVP last season. With the departure of Dontarrious Thomas, all three backup linebacker spots are up in the air, too, and Farwell was emerging as one of the top reserves.
``We're going to miss Heath Farwell. There's no doubt about that,'' special teams coordinator Paul Ferraro said. ``He was a tremendous player for us. He had one of the best years I've seen a special teams player have a year ago.''
Ferraro said his depth on the coverage and return units is stronger than the past two seasons, so he feels better about finding a fill-in for Farwell. Vinny Ciurcui, another backup linebacker, was signed as a free agent two years ago primarily to contribute on special teams and could see his responsibilities increase.

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