What do Matt Kalil and Bryant McKinnie have in common, besides each being former former first-round picks of the Minnesota Vikings that played left tackle?
For one, each of them has struggled with his weight. That was part of what put McKinnie on waivers during training camp in 2011. He reportedly reached close to 400 pounds as he packed on weight during the NFL's offseason lockout of players. The Vikings started him out on the physically unable to perform list for training camp but waited only a few days before releasing him.
Kalil, McKinnie's replacement a year later, has also struggled with his weight, but in his case he struggles to keep it on, not take it off. During his rookie season, when he contracted pneumonia, he dropped nearly 20 pounds, going from his rookie playing weight of 310 pounds to nearly 290.
"I couldn't eat anything for about three days. That wasn't very good," Kalil said.
As the Vikings are putting the finishing touches on their second week in their conditioning program, Kalil admits he is different from many of the other athletes working out at this time of year.
"For some other guys, they start working out and they gain weight. I shrivel up myself working out," he said. "But I started a couple months ago, getting back into it, and it's going to continue."
For now, he is back close to 310 pounds and hoping to get to 315 by the start of the season, "which shouldn't be a problem."
However, there is something to be said for not having too much weight. The left tackle whose athleticism has impressed his teammates on the offensive line since they first started working with him last year, will face a gauntlet of talented, quick pass rushers during the 2013 season.
"Yeah, I looked. There's a few more – Terrell Suggs, DeMarcus Ware," Kalil said. "I've definitely looked at the schedule more. That's week-in, week-out. Every defensive end is tough in this league."
From pass-rushing linebackers like Green Bay's Clay Matthews and Dallas' DeMarcus Ware to more traditional defensive ends like Carolina's Charles Johnson and Chicago's Julius Peppers, Kalil will often be charged with protecting Christian Ponder from some of the league's best sack artists.
Of course, even as a rookie, Kalil proved his worth. He made the Pro Bowl as an alternate and played every offensive snap for the Vikings in 2012.
Minnesota certainly felt it got its draft and money value out of Kalil. Maybe that helped three offensive tackles – Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Lane Johnson – get drafted in the first four picks of this year's draft.
"I just thought of it from the perspective of offensive linemen. It's cool to see a lot of teams draft a lot of offensive tackles, and take a lot of value in them," Kalil said. "It makes me feel better for what I do in my job, protecting the quarterback and helping Adrian Peterson run. For offensive line, it's a whole unit. It's not just one guy. But it's pretty cool seeing all those offensive tackles go in the first round."
At this point, Kalil has already established himself as one of the best left tackles in the NFL. Now he just has to make sure he makes weight.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Kalil has opposite weight issue of McKinnie
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