Notebook: Rare look gives Vikings more beef

The Vikings used a rare formation four times Sunday that put a lot of weight on the left side of the offensive line. See what the linemen had to say about the look. Plus, injury updates and other notes from Thursday at Winter Park.

The Minnesota Vikings are occasionally finding more beef than normal on the left side of the offensive line.

Four times during their 26-23 overtime win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, they moved mammoth right tackle Phil Loadholt over to the left side of the line – outside of rookie left tackle Matt Kalil.

"I don't think Jacksonville really knew how to react to it, being their first game. They couldn't really scout it," said right guard Brandon Fusco. "I think it threw them off balance a little bit. It was just some plays to throw in there to throw off the defense."

When the Vikings go to their unbalanced line, it put the 6-foot-8, 343-pound Loadholt outside of the 6-foot-7, 308-pound Kalil. That's 651 pounds of momentum coming towards a defense and it gains another 305 pounds with left guard Charlie Johnson staying his spot on the line.

"It was definitely a lot of girth on that side of the offensive line," Kalil said. "It's good playing next to Phil. He's a great offensive tackle and we know we definitely get moving on that side with him over there."

The Vikings used the formation only once in the first half of their season opener, gaining seven yards on a Toby Gerhart run.

However, on their third drive of the second half, they used it on consecutive plays to start the series and then again three plays later.

"It's just an opportunity for us to get some runs. It's a mix-up for us – give the defense something for us to think about," said Loadholt, who also played left tackle in college.

"I don't think it tips it at all. … There's some variety to it."

Indeed there was. The second time they used it – or the first time in the second half – they threw a 15-yard completion to receiver Michael Jenkins. The next time, it was Gerhart with a 6-yard run to his left with fullback Jerome Felton leading the way. The final time, Gerhart gained two yards on a run to his left.

"It's definitely worked out for us so I'm sure we might go back to it," Kalil said.

The one obstacle could be leaving Fusco, a first-year starter at right guard, a little light next to him. Instead of having Loadholt to his right, the Vikings brought tight end Kyle Rudolph to fill the vacancy at right tackle. The difference between Loadholt and Rudolph, according to the roster, is 85 pounds.

"I just line up and hit the guy in front of me. I don't think any differently," Fusco said.

"I think we actually made some good strides with that formation. I think I pulled around one time and we got about 8 yards. It's a great formation."

NOTES

  • Center John Sullivan, who was limited in Wednesday's practice with an ankle injury, was held out of practice Thursday.

  • Cornerback Antoine Winfield was absent from practice, likely tending to family business after the death of his brother last week.

  • Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said Matt Asiata's 22-yard return of a low kickoff "might have been the play of the game." The return put the Vikings at the 31-yard line. Two plays later they were in position for Blair Walsh's 55-yard, game-tying field goal.

  • Priefer said the Vikings likely would have attempted any field goal under 65 yards in that situation at the end of the regulation.

  • Defensive coordinator Alan Williams, who was an assistant with the Indianapolis Colts from 2002-11, said he can offer some insight on the Colts' personnel as the Vikings prepare for Sunday's game, but with a new coaching staff the schemes have all changed.


    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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  • Center John Sullivan, who was limited in Wednesday's practice with an ankle injury, was held out of practice Thursday.
  • Cornerback Antoine Winfield was absent from practice, likely tending to family business after the death of his brother last week.
  • Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said Matt Asiata's 22-yard return of a low kickoff \"might have been the play of the game.\" The return put the Vikings at the 31-yard line. Two plays later they were in position for Blair Walsh's 55-yard, game-tying field goal.
  • Priefer said the Vikings likely would have attempted any field goal under 65 yards in that situation at the end of the regulation.
  • Defensive coordinator Alan Williams, who was an assistant with the Indianapolis Colts from 2002-11, said he can offer some insight on the Colts' personnel as the Vikings prepare for Sunday's game, but with a new coaching staff the schemes have all changed.
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