Wentworth made most of limited role

Austin Wentworth got his first offensive snaps of the season – two of them, actually – and had one touchdown scored behind his block. His role has changed with injuries on the offensive line.

When the 2014 season started for the Vikings not many people thought that Austin Wentworth – an undrafted free agent out of Fresno State – would see the field during his rookie season. He is not one of the rookies that people taking about, but on Sunday versus the Detroit Lions he was able to see the field on offense and make an impact in his limited time.

The first touchdown of the game was a run by Matt Asiata, and the play went to the left side behind left tackle Matt Kalil, and Wentworth. It was the first time that Wentworth saw the field on the offense in his NFL career, but he never had time to think about it. Instead, he was just focused on his job.

“Everybody asks, ‘What you are thinking?’” said Wentworth. “But you’re really so locked into what you’re supposed to do – you’re assignments – kind of just business as normal. It was awesome, though. Getting your first reps is always pretty fun.”

On that play, Wentworth was playing the jumbo tight end position and lined up to the left of Kalil. He was in there to give a little extra push during a goal-line situation, but even though that is a play they have been working on he knows that he was lucky to be in there in the first place.

“Yeah, we have been working a little bit all year, with injuries it’s kind of changed who our jumbo guy has been.” he said. “It used to be Mike (Harris), then when he started playing I’ve taken over that now.

“If we are not in our goal-line situation that play is not going to get called. I guess you could say luckily the play before got tackled on the one, so I got to get in and play a little offense.”

As Wentworth said, he was not the primary jumbo tight end, but because of all the injuries to the offensive line – three starters were out against the Lions – he was moved up into that position. It didn’t happen by accident, though, as Wentworth has been working hard to get to the point that he has.

“He’s a smart guy,” said head coach Mike Zimmer. “He’s got pretty good balance, works hard in practice and I think that’s a credit to our scouts that they go and find these kind of guys.”

Wentworth hasn’t played the jumbo tight end position before, at least not in the pros or college. Along with that he also has to learn all the other positions on the offensive line in case he is ever needed elsewhere.

That’s something that is very new to him because in college all he did was play tackle. He didn’t have to learn all the other positions. And his versatility has become a lot better because of that.

“Coming from college where you play one set position, and now I’m kind of swinging between all five,” Wentworth said. “So getting comfortable right and left, guard and tackle, and even center at times.”

His hard work in practice has started to pay off for him as he has continued to rise on the depth chart. It has not been an easy road for him this year, but when it comes to making it in the NFL, most things are not easy.

Despite that, Wentworth has been enjoying the entire season. He enjoys being an underdog in this league, and he is not letting the fact that he passed players on the depth chart who were drafted affect his underdog mentality.

“Its good,” Wentworth said. “Kind of being the underdog, always working to get what you have, but I haven’t let it hold me back. Just been playing football, and lucky enough to be where I am.”

There have been a lot of people that have helped Wentworth get to where he is this season, and he is very thankful for all the help that they have given him.

“I mean, I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one,” he said. “My O-ine coach (Jeff Davidson) obviously, and then our assistant O-line coach Hank (Fraley) – he spends time with us everyday after practice. Even Norv (Turner) helping out here and there, it’s just a bunch of guys, and I can’t thank the other vets enough pulling me aside and giving me tricks and tips, and kind of take me under the wing at times. So it’s a lot of guys that help you.”

Wentworth can’t be sure what the future holds for him, or whether his role on the Vikings will continue to grow or not. Of course, he hopes it does, but for now he is only going to worry about the things that he can control and continue to work .


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