Schwartz getting more involved

Geoff Schwartz did much more than simply run out on a pass pattern Sunday as a tight end. The offensive lineman got his most extensive playing time of the season. He explained both roles, as well as a collegiate highlight run that sticks out for an offensive lineman.

Geoff Schwartz got more snaps in Seattle Sunday than he has all season, but as far as he knows the offensive lineman isn't on the verge of pushing for a starting spot.

"Until they tell me otherwise, the rotation is going to stay the same. That's what they told me," Schwartz said.

That rotation has included Schwartz usually getting two series of work at right guard in place of second-year player and first-year starter Brandon Fusco. In Seattle, however, Schwartz's role looked bigger than ever for two reasons.

First, he was also used as an occasional tight end, getting two snaps at the position on the goal line and two more in the open field. Second, one of his drives playing guard turned out to be an extended, 12-play series for the Vikings. That combination of factors ended up giving Schwartz 21 snaps, or 39 percent of the offensive plays.

"Four of my reps were at tight end. I got a good amount of reps in yesterday, but we're still in keeping with the rotation that we've been doing," he said. "I had a nice, long drive which kind of padded the number."

Still, it wouldn't be a complete surprise if Schwartz started to see more time if the pass protection continues to struggle. QB Christian Ponder took four sacks against the Seahawks, and he has been sacked 14 times in the last four games. Those aren't all on the offensive line – Ponder may not be getting the ball out on time or running himself into sacks, running backs and tight ends have missed blitz pickups, and receivers aren't getting open quickly enough – but left guard Charlie Johnson knows the drill.

"Any time there is a sack, we're going to put it on (the offensive line). That's the way we are, that's the group we have," Johnson said. "Regardless of what happens, we didn't do a good enough job and Christian shouldn't have to worry about that."

Schwartz didn't play in the first three games while he recovered from preseason sports hernia surgery and then slowly worked his way into the rotation, starting with three snaps, then up to 15 against Tampa Bay. But the ascent continues.

"Mentally, I'm always fine. That's one of my strong suits," Schwartz said. "Physically for sure, probably Week 3 or 4, I got in shape. I'm ready to go. If I need to play a whole game, I'm ready."

It won't be at tight end. He figures the reason he was used there was because John Carlson missed his second straight game with a concussion.

Still, the one play he got into a route in the end zone was fun for someone who has been a blocker for his entire NFL career.

"It was fun to run a route, but I was probably more like the fourth option – throw it to two other guys, run it in and then throw it to me. But it was fun to be able to do that," he said.

Actually, Ponder didn't choose any of those options. Schwartz and Adrian Peterson were well-covered and the quarterback simply threw the ball away before he stepped out of bounds on a rollout to his right.

Schwartz said he played some tight end during his three years in Carolina (2011 was spent on injured reserve), but those were mostly goal-line jumbo situations and he doesn't remember ever going out on a route. But he definitely remembers the number of catches he has in his NFL career.

"Zero. I didn't go out for a pass in Carolina, I don't think," he said.

His memory of his collegiate highlight at Oregon is much more vivid – a 3-yard run that happened on a broken play.

"They pitched me the ball by accident. The play was run to the left and Dennis (Dixon) … was supposed to go left and I blocked the end out to the right. I was playing right tackle and the end spun back in and Dennis instead of running left went right and he's supposed to have a pitch option. I guess he thought I was the pitch guy and he pitched me the ball," Schwartz recounted. "I got like two steps and got tackled, but I got 3 yards. I was the third-leading rusher that game, so I was pretty proud. We beat USC in '07. It was pretty fun."

That "run" lives on YouTube, but for now Schwartz is concentrating on his role on the offensive line. Fortunately for him, it's an expanding role.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.



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I got a good amount of reps in yesterday, but we're still in keeping with the rotation that we've been doing,\" he said. \"I had a nice, long drive which kind of padded the number.\" Still, it wouldn't be a complete surprise if Schwartz started to see more time if the pass protection continues to struggle. QB Christian Ponder took four sacks against the Seahawks, and he has been sacked 14 times in the last four games. Those aren't all on the offensive line – Ponder may not be getting the ball out on time or running himself into sacks, running backs and tight ends have missed blitz pickups, and receivers aren't getting open quickly enough – but left guard Charlie Johnson knows the drill. \"Any time there is a sack, we're going to put it on (the offensive line). That's the way we are, that's the group we have,\" Johnson said. \"Regardless of what happens, we didn't do a good enough job and Christian shouldn't have to worry about that.\" Schwartz didn't play in the first three games while he recovered from preseason sports hernia surgery and then slowly worked his way into the rotation, starting with three snaps, then up to 15 against Tampa Bay. But the ascent continues. \"Mentally, I'm always fine. That's one of my strong suits,\" Schwartz said. \"Physically for sure, probably Week 3 or 4, I got in shape. I'm ready to go. If I need to play a whole game, I'm ready.\" It won't be at tight end. He figures the reason he was used there was because John Carlson missed his second straight game with a concussion. Still, the one play he got into a route in the end zone was fun for someone who has been a blocker for his entire NFL career. \"It was fun to run a route, but I was probably more like the fourth option – throw it to two other guys, run it in and then throw it to me. But it was fun to be able to do that,\" he said. Actually, Ponder didn't choose any of those options. Schwartz and Adrian Peterson were well-covered and the quarterback simply threw the ball away before he stepped out of bounds on a rollout to his right. Schwartz said he played some tight end during his three years in Carolina (2011 was spent on injured reserve), but those were mostly goal-line jumbo situations and he doesn't remember ever going out on a route. But he definitely remembers the number of catches he has in his NFL career. \"Zero. I didn't go out for a pass in Carolina, I don't think,\" he said. His memory of his collegiate highlight at Oregon is much more vivid – a 3-yard run that happened on a broken play. \"They pitched me the ball by accident. The play was run to the left and Dennis (Dixon) … was supposed to go left and I blocked the end out to the right. I was playing right tackle and the end spun back in and Dennis instead of running left went right and he's supposed to have a pitch option. I guess he thought I was the pitch guy and he pitched me the ball,\" Schwartz recounted. \"I got like two steps and got tackled, but I got 3 yards. I was the third-leading rusher that game, so I was pretty proud. We beat USC in '07. It was pretty fun.\" That \"run\" lives on YouTube, but for now Schwartz is concentrating on his role on the offensive line. Fortunately for him, it's an expanding role. 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