Vikings' offensive line a focus as cuts loom

Reserve offensive linemen can’t feel safe even they make the Minnesota Vikings’ original 53-man roster.

There are some heartbreaking moments that are going to take place today. Players are going to get cut. In all, more than 700 young men are going to lose their jobs and, for many of them, it will be the death of their dream of playing NFL football.

Today is a genocidal world in NFL terms. Players keep their fingers crossed that they won’t get summoned to team headquarters to be informed that they’ve been released. But surviving the initial cuts may not be the end of the story for some players, especially as it pertains to the 2015 Vikings trimming down the roster.

The Vikings have depth just about everywhere except on offensive line. From the end of last season, the Vikings already have three O-linemen playing out of position – right guard Brandon Fusco has moved to left guard, Mike Harris, who played right tackle last season, has moved to right guard and rookie T.J. Clemmings replaces injured starter Phil Loadholt at right tackle. Throw in that center John Sullivan has been suffering back spasms that have sidelined him for the last three preseason games and you have the potential for catastrophe along the offensive front.

What makes the current injury situation even more troubling is that the Vikings have little in the way of depth behind the revamped offensive line. Aside from veteran swingman Joe Berger, the Vikings don’t have anyone behind the starters that has seen time in a NFL game. The team has three players in their second year of playing eligibility – David Yankey, Isame Faciane and Zac Kerin – and three rookies – Tyrus Thompson, Austin Shepherd and Tom Farniok.

Related: Vikings' cuts start, key dates ahead

For an offense that is based on running the ball as much as the Vikings are expected to, this lack of veteran depth up front poses more than its share of challenges to the Vikings. Adrian Peterson is the face of the franchise, but needs blockers opening holes for him to succeed. Teddy Bridgewater is the face of the future, but needs protection to remain upright and healthy. Neither of those appear to be assured with the current configuration of the Vikings’ offensive line.

That issue may be front and center this weekend as the Vikings look to finalize their 2015 roster. The Vikings could well swing a trade for a veteran backup offensive lineman and/or scour the waiver wire looking to upgrade the position. A player might survive the cut to 53 only to learn that the team has swung a trade or signed another waived player that takes his spot away.

For most players, not getting a call from Winter Park will be a blessing that means their NFL careers are still on track. However, given the Vikings’ current state of affairs along the offensive line, even those who survive the initial cuts this afternoon will have to keep their phones nearby because it appears as though the offensive line is a fluid situation and at least one lineman who will be on the roster for the Week 1 game at San Francisco likely isn’t currently on the roster.

Stay tuned.


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