EDEN PRAIRIE (AP) -- Minnesota Vikings receiver Chris Walsh was scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday to repair a broken cheekbone.
The injury is expected to sideline the Vikings' special teams captain for 2-4 weeks, which could keep him out of an NFL playoff game.
Walsh is hoping for much less.
"I'm hoping they could put a pad on that," Walsh said after returning from the doctor Monday. "I'd like to do something this week."
Walsh, who was injured while being hit simultaneously by three St. Louis Rams defenders on a pass reception, said there are breaks in three areas of his cheekbone, near his left ear. The surgery will not require his jaw to be wired shut.
The Vikings also could be without receiver Matthew Hatchette, who pulled a muscle near his hip. Without Walsh and Hatchette, the Vikings could be forced use rookie Troy Walters or recently signed Joey Kent in three-receiver sets with Randy Moss and Cris Carter.Meanwhile, Minnesota Viking free safety Orlando Thomas has been through this before. That's what continues to worry coach Dennis Green.
Thomas had targeted Sunday's game against Green Bay for his return from a broken left shoulder bone, but that game might pass with Thomas still on the sidelines.
Thomas, who has missed the last six games with the injury, broke the other shoulder in Game 14 last season, and Green is worried the bookend injuries.
"What we're concerned with is, why a young guy would have an injury that rarely happens ... and then have two of them," Green said. "We're going to take a certain cautious approach to it.
The Vikings' defense could use Thomas, but that was clear before their 40-29 loss to the St. Louis Rams last Sunday. Minnesota had to give the Rams' talented receivers a huge cushion, and Kurt Warner completed 27 of 32 passes without an interception. The Vikings have only seven interceptions this season.
Thomas, who hopes to become a coach, said his absence was eased by the Vikings' success and the play of rookie Tyrone Carter, who has filled in admirably for Thomas at free safety. Thomas took an active role in Carter's development.
Though Thomas is eager to return, he understands the Vikings' concern.
"It's all about taking a shot on the bone," Thomas said. "It's a situation where you've always got to use (the shoulder). If the doctor says it's healthy enough, that it's strong enough, I'm out there."
Thomas could at least raise his arm above his head after the shoulder was broken this season, putting him about two weeks ahead of his recovery last season, when Thomas said the injury was more serious.
He said he could draw only slightly from last year's injury, when a return in time for the playoffs was unrealistic.
"I understand how to deal with it now, whereas last year I didn't do anything," Thomas said. "I sat around for two months. I'd lift a little bit and then feel sore afterward. This is a little bit different.
"This time, I've been trying to do two things at once -- letting the bone heal, as well as trying to get strong -- within a 6-8 week period. The doctors tell me it's a 12-week injury. We're trying to get there two-in-one."
But only if the bone is healed and the player is ready.
"We never rush a player back," Green said. "The player's health and safety are the No. 1 issue. If he's supposed to play, we'll play him. If not, we'll always hold him back."
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