Despite line injuries, run game a focus

Mike Zimmer has an agenda this week and it includes a better running game, despite injuries on the Minnesota Vikings offensive line, including John Sullivan.

Although Carter Bykowski still hasn’t been placed on injured reserve, the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line continues to deal with injuries.

Phil Loadholt is already on injured reserve after tearing his Achilles tendon in the second preseason game and Bykowski had surgery on his pectoral muscle, but the more immediate issue is the absence of starting center John Sullivan.

Sullivan missed two practices last week with spasms and Saturday’s third preseason game. Sullivan wasn’t practicing again on Monday as the team resumed practices in preparation for Saturday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer set his agenda for the week on Monday and improving in the run game is one emphasis handed down from the coach to the players.

“We obviously didn’t run the ball well enough the other night, which is another emphasis that we have this week that we’ve got to get going,” Zimmer said. “I’ve talked to the team this morning about that. I do think that we’re coming off the ball good. There’s one area that we definitely have to get better at in the running game and then we have to finish better in the running game. I guess the easiest way to say it is, there’s one area that’s kind of holding us back right now that we’ve got to get better at.”

Rookie T.J. Clemmings remains the starting right tackle in place of Loadholt, but with guard Brandon Fusco moved over the left side of the line for the start of offseason practices and remaining there, the right side of the line will be all new at the start of the season with former tackle Mike Harris at right guard.
“I think those guys are doing fine. I think T.J. [Clemmings] is doing a good job and there’s a couple of plays we had the other night that we didn’t block correctly, that might have been a little bit of the confusion with the 3-4 (defense) a little bit, but I don’t think that will be an issue, no.”
If Sullivan isn’t able to play Saturday against the Cowboys, it will mean three of the starters on the offensive line, in a game which is typically the one where starters play the longest, will be different than the line that started or ended last season.

MONDAY PRACTICE NOTES
  • Zimmer said the team hasn’t decided what to do with Bykowski yet.

    “I’ve been told, obviously, what they think it is, but we haven’t made any decisions for sure yet,” he said.
  • Zimmer said the Vikings probably won’t fill the spot vacated by long snapper Cullen Loeffler’s release, at least “not right now.”

  • TE MyCole Pruitt (ankle) is “getting close” to returning, Zimmer said, but Pruitt was among the players sitting out of Monday’s practice.

  • S Antone Exum (hamstring), Pruitt (ankle), DT Shamar Stephen (knee) and CB Josh Robinson (pectoral muscle) joined Bykowski and Sullivan among the players not practicing Monday.

  • Veteran CB Terence Newman continues to show his savvy, breaking up a pass intended for Mike Wallace during full-team work Monday.

  • Blair Walsh was 6-for-8 on field goals, missing from 37 and 47 yards.


  • Viking Update Top Stories

    \r\n\r\n\r\nAlthough Carter Bykowski still hasn’t been placed on injured reserve, the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line continues to deal with injuries.\r\n
    \r\n
    Phil Loadholt is already on injured reserve after tearing his Achilles tendon in the second preseason game and Bykowski had surgery on his pectoral muscle, but the more immediate issue is the absence of starting center John Sullivan.\r\n
    \r\n
    Sullivan missed two practices last week with spasms and Saturday’s third preseason game. Sullivan wasn’t practicing again on Monday as the team resumed practices in preparation for Saturday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.\r\n
    \r\n
    Vikings coach Mike Zimmer set his agenda for the week on Monday and improving in the run game is one emphasis handed down from the coach to the players.\r\n
    \r\n
    “We obviously didn’t run the ball well enough the other night, which is another emphasis that we have this week that we’ve got to get going,” Zimmer said. “I’ve talked to the team this morning about that. I do think that we’re coming off the ball good. There’s one area that we definitely have to get better at in the running game and then we have to finish better in the running game. I guess the easiest way to say it is, there’s one area that’s kind of holding us back right now that we’ve got to get better at.”\r\n
    \r\n
    Rookie T.J. Clemmings remains the starting right tackle in place of Loadholt, but with guard Brandon Fusco moved over the left side of the line for the start of offseason practices and remaining there, the right side of the line will be all new at the start of the season with former tackle Mike Harris at right guard.\r\n
    \r\n“I think those guys are doing fine. I think T.J. [Clemmings] is doing a good job and there’s a couple of plays we had the other night that we didn’t block correctly, that might have been a little bit of the confusion with the 3-4 (defense) a little bit, but I don’t think that will be an issue, no.”\r\n
    \r\nIf Sullivan isn’t able to play Saturday against the Cowboys, it will mean three of the starters on the offensive line, in a game which is typically the one where starters play the longest, will be different than the line that started or ended last season.\r\n\r\n\r\n

    \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n
    MONDAY PRACTICE NOTES
    \r\n
  • Zimmer said the team hasn’t decided what to do with Bykowski yet. \r\n
    \r\n
    “I’ve been told, obviously, what they think it is, but we haven’t made any decisions for sure yet,” he said.\r\n\r\n
  • Zimmer said the Vikings probably won’t fill the spot vacated by long snapper Cullen Loeffler’s release, at least “not right now.”\r\n
    \r\n
  • TE MyCole Pruitt (ankle) is “getting close” to returning, Zimmer said, but Pruitt was among the players sitting out of Monday’s practice.\r\n
    \r\n
  • S Antone Exum (hamstring), Pruitt (ankle), DT Shamar Stephen (knee) and CB Josh Robinson (pectoral muscle) joined Bykowski and Sullivan among the players not practicing Monday.\r\n
    \r\n
  • Veteran CB Terence Newman continues to show his savvy, breaking up a pass intended for Mike Wallace during full-team work Monday.\r\n
    \r\n
  • Blair Walsh was 6-for-8 on field goals, missing from 37 and 47 yards.\r\n
    \r\n
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