Charting the game a new rookie task

Two of the Vikings' rookie draft picks haven't been active for a game yet this year, but they are staying engaged, at least mentally, on the sidelines during games and scouting things during the week in preparation for Sunday. Brandon Fusco and DeMarcus Love talked about their responsibilities as they learn the pro game.

The teachable moments never stop for new offensive line coach Jeff Davidson.

Davidson is a former offensive lineman from Ohio State who went on to play for the Denver Broncos (1990-92) and New Orleans Saints (1994) before moving into coaching. As an NFL coach and coordinator for the last 15 years, he's worked with the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers before coming to the Vikings this year.

He brought with him an interesting tactic for his reserve offensive linemen, keeping them involved during the work week and on the sidelines during games. During the week, the inexperienced backup linemen are charged with creating their own scouting reports on the defensive linemen the starters will be facing.

"I think it helps us out as offensive linemen to be able to grade out a defensive lineman and learn his tendencies and what he likes to do and what is his moves and pass rush and how does he play the run?" rookie tackle DeMarcus Love said. "How does he read run, read pass? It helps us understand the game a little bit more by not actually being out there on the field, but it also benefits the veterans because we also review that information with them. We might have something that they didn't see while they were reviewing the tape and we all help each other out by doing that."

The rookies present their scouting reports on the opposing defensive linemen to the rest of Minnesota's offensive linemen and line coaches during Saturday meetings.

"I never really experienced that, so it's something new to me," said rookie center Brandon Fusco, who was a full-time starter at Slippery Rock so he never was assigned anything like this. "I'm liking it. I'm learning the system and just getting better every week."

Love said the veterans and rookies then compare notes at the end of the week. Sometimes the rookies will even have a helpful tip that may have slipped past a veteran starter.

"We review it in front of the whole offensive line on Saturday, all the backups and rookies," said Love, who is working mostly at left tackle for the Vikings these days. "We're just giving our input on what we see and if they see something different or they didn't pick that up, it helps them that way."

During game days, the rookie linemen chart each offensive play that is called and what their assignment would be if they were playing a certain position.

"Coach Davidson, he gives us a position each game, either it's for me guard or center. Make sure we know our job and basically we give them back to him," said Fusco, who was drafted as a center but is splitting time working as a guard or center. "Just something for us to get better as rookies. If people aren't playing, just for us to keep on getting our mental reps if we're on the sidelines.

"They basically want us to learn and get the concepts of everything. Never know when we're going to be out there, so it could be any play, any game, any practice."

Neither Fusco nor Love has been active for any of the Vikings' first three games, but Davidson's approach is making sure they are staying mentally involved in case their time comes later this season.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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During the week, the inexperienced backup linemen are charged with creating their own scouting reports on the defensive linemen the starters will be facing. \"I think it helps us out as offensive linemen to be able to grade out a defensive lineman and learn his tendencies and what he likes to do and what is his moves and pass rush and how does he play the run?\" rookie tackle DeMarcus Love said. \"How does he read run, read pass? It helps us understand the game a little bit more by not actually being out there on the field, but it also benefits the veterans because we also review that information with them. We might have something that they didn't see while they were reviewing the tape and we all help each other out by doing that.\" The rookies present their scouting reports on the opposing defensive linemen to the rest of Minnesota's offensive linemen and line coaches during Saturday meetings. \"I never really experienced that, so it's something new to me,\" said rookie center Brandon Fusco, who was a full-time starter at Slippery Rock so he never was assigned anything like this. \"I'm liking it. I'm learning the system and just getting better every week.\" Love said the veterans and rookies then compare notes at the end of the week. Sometimes the rookies will even have a helpful tip that may have slipped past a veteran starter. \"We review it in front of the whole offensive line on Saturday, all the backups and rookies,\" said Love, who is working mostly at left tackle for the Vikings these days. \"We're just giving our input on what we see and if they see something different or they didn't pick that up, it helps them that way.\" During game days, the rookie linemen chart each offensive play that is called and what their assignment would be if they were playing a certain position. \"Coach Davidson, he gives us a position each game, either it's for me guard or center. Make sure we know our job and basically we give them back to him,\" said Fusco, who was drafted as a center but is splitting time working as a guard or center. \"Just something for us to get better as rookies. 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