With Adrian Peterson back and Teddy Bridgewater’s promise, the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line could be the key to the season.
The Vikings averaged only 4.4 yards per rushing attempt last year, tied for the lowest since 2009, and Teddy Bridgewater was sacked an average of more than three times a game.
That’s why their still-unfilled spot at right guard is so important.
“They understand a lot of what’s riding on this season,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said of the offensive line. “And it’s not just them. It’s everybody. Defensively we have to perform better. Teddy’s got to continue to improve, the receivers got to continue too. But I understand your point. And, yes, they have got to perform and perform well.”
The Vikings started organized team activities with T.J. Clemmings at right guard. Then it was Tyrus Thompson through minicamp. Both are rookies and both are converted tackles, with Clemmings now moved back to right tackle for the start of training camp.
The arrival of training camp brought three-year veteran Mike Harris into the limelight with his shot at the starting spot at right guard. But Harris is also a converted tackle trying to make the transition.
All have had their moments and struggled at times, but it’s a position the Vikings will have to figure out in the next six weeks before the start of the regular season if they want their offensive line issues to dissipate.
“You’ve kind of got to temper it a little bit because the twos are going against the twos and it’s not in pads,” Zimmer said of his offensive line evaluation before the first day of padded practices on Tuesday. “Maybe on Wednesday I might do a little period where we’re putting the second defense against the first offense and the first defense against the second offense, just so I can start getting a better evaluation when they’re going against better guys.”
Eventually, one of the converted tackles, or interior swing offensive lineman Joe Berger, will have to emerge and solidify the only remaining starting spot.