The Minnesota Vikings have suffered casualties all along the offensive line and currently have four offensive linemen on their injured reserve – Carter Bykowski, Tyrus Thompson, Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan (with Sullivan having the designation to return). The team had to make some moves to help replenish the depth of the offensive line. One of those moves was to bring in Jeremiah Sirles.
They traded a sixth-round draft pick to the San Diego Chargers in next year’s draft in order to obtain the lineman. Sirles joined the Chargers as an undrafted free agent a year ago and spent a majority of the season on the practice squad, but he was activated to the 53-man roster late in the season when the Chargers’ offensive line was decimated with injuries.
Now he has a chance to start anew in Minnesota and he is looking forward to the opportunity that has been placed in front of him.
“I was excited,”Sirles said when he found out about the trade. “All I wanted was an opportunity to play in the NFL on a 53-man roster and I was blessed that the Vikings gave me that opportunity and soon as the (general manager) at San Diego, Tom Telesco, gave me the call and told me they had traded me I was, ‘OK, when do I leave? When do I get to get out there and start learning the playbook?’ Because it’s not like I have all of OTAs and all of camp to learn. I have a week. So I have a week to kind of figure out my stuff and hopefully be able to contribute to this team.”
The biggest thing that Sirles has to contribute to this team right away is his versatility. He has experience playing all five positions of the offensive line, and that type of experience is hard to come by, especially from a player as young as he is.
The coaching staff has not yet told him what they expect his role to be on the team, so he is just focusing on learning the playbook. He figures as long as he knows everything he can in such a short window, he should be able to fill in anywhere.
“Right now I’m just focused on coming in and learning everything,” he said. “If you can know everything then they can plug and play you wherever they need, which is something that I did in San Diego, which I think helped me get here to this point. They saw the versatility that I was able to do, so right now I’m just trying to learn everything.”
Learning the offense can always be difficult, though, especially since he only has a week or so to do it. He needs to forget everything that he has learned during his time with the Chargers and start from scratch. It might take awhile to fully understand the ins and outs of the offense, but so far he feels he is doing a good job.
“It’s getting better every day,” Sirles said about his comfort with the offense. “It was tough. It’s hard to come in, you have to pretty much wash everything you learned in the past year and a half, start over, but the great thing is it’s a pro-style offense. So a lot of the concepts and schemes are very similar. It just comes down to how fast can you flush away what you knew as far as verbiage and apply the new verbiage, calls and everything to this offense.”
One thing that he knows is going to help him learn the offense faster is the players that surround him in the locker room. He has been very impressed with all his new teammates, especially his fellow offensive linemen, and he is already making connections with the veterans as well as the other young players.
“I think it’s a great team, it’s a young team, which is great,” he said. “I’m a young guy. I’m only in my second year so I can relate to a lot of these guys, but just being around here you can tell there are some really good leaders in the room. Matt Kalil and (Brandon) Fusco, those guys are great leaders; you can just tell that they played the game, they know how to play the game. Those are guys that I’ll try to mimic and follow through. And the young guys like T.J. Clemmings, me and him are going to work together. Then it’s really cool to see A.P. in person. I grew up watching him and in college a little bit, and now to get to block for a back like that is something every lineman dreams of.”
The Vikings will be taking on their first regular season opponent this Monday in the San Francisco 49ers. The two teams have not seen much of each other this season, since most teams hold back in the preseason, but Sirles has already had the experience of going up against the 49ers.
The Chargers and the 49ers played in the preseason with the 49ers coming out on top. That did not sit well with the second-year offensive lineman, so he may be looking for a victory more than anyone on Monday.
“I wouldn’t call it revenge, but it’s a chance of redemption,” he said. “It’s a chance to go out there and show I can play. This team has obviously had a completely different preseason experience than I had, but I want to go out there – not just because we lost last week but because I want to be 1-0 with the Minnesota Vikings when we walk out of there on Monday night.”