Ten games into the season, the Vikings' offensive line continues to be a work in progress.
The latest changes came before and during Monday night's last-second 20-17 victory at Green Bay and included switches at three spots. The biggest surprise was the first-half decision to lift right tackle Mike Rosenthal.
Coach Mike Tice had announced last week that left guard Chris Liwienski would be benched in favor of trade-deadline acquisition Toniu Fonoti. Fonoti, who at 386 pounds is 35 pounds over his playing weight, got the start but suffered a groin injury in the third quarter and was replaced by 6-2, 315-pound Anthony Herrera.
Herrera played the remainder of the game and appeared to hold his own against
the Packers interior line.
At center, Cory Withrow took the majority of the snaps last week in practice because Melvin Fowler has been nursing a strained oblique muscle. Fowler was lifted at halftime of the Vikings' victory over the New York Giants a week early because of the injury and Tice decided to stick with Withrow on Monday night.
Withrow had started the first four games of the season before being replaced by Fowler; although he is undersized (6-2, 287 pounds), he knows the offense better than Fowler.
Rosenthal was benched in the second quarter after giving up a sack to Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman. The final straw was a holding call against Rosenthal. Rookie Marcus Johnson, a player that Tice raved about in training camp, came in for Rosenthal and played the remainder of the game.
Johnson had started the season at right guard but lost that job to Adam Goldberg after four games.
Rosenthal did get in for two second-half plays at right tackle but that was as part of the Vikings' heavy package, which shifts Johnson to a tight end spot.
Tice made it clear he was impressed enough by the play of Herrera and Johnson that the two likely will start against Cleveland on Sunday.
The moves in Monday's game mean the only member of the offensive line not to be replaced at some point this season is left tackle Bryant McKinnie.