Kalil impressed with Fusco’s transition

Brandon Fusco made the move to the left guard, with him and Matt Kalil working on their combination blocks.

The offensive line is one of the biggest questions marks for the Minnesota Vikings as they continue through training camp. They have multiple players coming back from injury, they have shuffled players around, and they are attempting to plug players into positions they have never played before.

One of the parts that they are hoping will work out for the better is moving Brandon Fusco from right guard over to left guard. By doing this, the team hopes that they can shore up the left side of the offensive line and help keep quarterback Teddy Bridgewater upright.

Left tackle Matt Kalil struggled in 2014, but both an injured knee and inconsistent guard play by Charlie Johnson next to him had a lot to do with that. So far, Kalil has high hopes for how things will go with Fusco alongside him because he has known him since he entered the league in 2012, and because they both play with the same type of mentality.

“Yeah, we’re getting there. Brandon is a great guard and we both kind of have the same attitude where if a block doesn’t go right we both kind of think that it’s our fault, which isn’t a bad thing,” Kalil said. “But we’re always working on it, figuring out what we need to do in the full practice, doing stuff and getting extra work in so I have no doubt. We’ve gotten a lot better on some different things each day. … It’s a long offseason still before out first game, so there is still a lot to improve on.”

Having chemistry with the player next to him is important for any offensive lineman. They have to know what the other player is going to do in certain situations so they don’t allow a defender to rush in free at the quarterback. That is why the best offensive lines in the NFL are often together for several years.

The Vikings are hoping that they can build that kind of chemistry, especially between Fusco and Kalil, in just a single offseason. Kalil understands what needs to be done and knows that there are multiple steps they need to take to get there. Even though some of the steps may seem boring, each is just as important as the last.

“Just repetitions, that’s all it is with the offensive line,” Kalil said. “The walk-through, I know some people think it’s just a walk-through, but we are working at a slower pace on our footwork. And working together in drills against each other and then bringing that stuff into team (drills), and team kind of correlates into on-field and games. So just those little individual steps you’ve got to kind of master.”

There is a lot of mutual respect between Fusco and Kalil and that could ultimately help the two jell together faster. Kalil knows that it cannot be easy making the switch to the left side of the line, but Fusco seems to be making it look easy and that really impresses the team’s left tackle.

“It’s a little different and I give Brandon credit for playing as well as he is because it may not seem like a big move, but it’s like me moving to right tackle, everything’s backwards,” he said. “You punch with a different hand, and it’s just about getting a feel for it and I think he’s been getting better each day the more comfortable he is getting, so I have no doubt. I’ve said it every time somebody’s asked: I think he’s one of the best guards in the NFL. He’s strong, smart, quick, so he’s got everything to be a great football player.”

There is going to be a lot of pressure on this offensive line early in the regular season, and if they do not perform well the fan base could turn on them quickly. And if sacks start to come from the left side, Kalil will likely get most of the blame, whether it is warranted or not.

He doesn’t seem to be too worried about it. He understands that there is still a long ways to go until the regular season rolls around, and with where things are right now he feels as though he and Fusco are moving in the right direction.

“So we’re working together and just getting better each day. Like I said, it’s a long camp,” Kalil said. “Still got a lot of work to do, but at least we’re making progress. We’re going up, not going down.”

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