Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has made it clear that fixing the offensive line was his top priority in the offseason, but the fix isn’t complete yet. The players may be acquired, but where exactly they fit on the depth chart isn’t set yet.
Still, until Teddy Bridgewater – the most pressured quarterback in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus – has time to throw, it’s difficult to make too many sweeping judgments on his progress.
To date, he probably gets an incomplete grade. However, on Wednesday, when things should be easier without contact, Bridgewater struggled early with accuracy.
He missed Adam Thielen multiple times on overthrows, but Bridgewater was far from alone. Veteran Shaun Hill may have struggled the most in the first half of a practice that left something to be desired at the quarterback position. Hill missed some open chances, either by throwing elsewhere or throwing off-target.
This early in the practice season, it’s not time to panic because players are shuttled in and out, which can affect timing, and by the second half of practice, Bridgewater was looking better.
During early drills, both Bridgewater and Hill missed on deep shots down the left sideline, although Bridgewater’s attempt for Charles Johnson was not a poorly placed pass.
During a longer full-team session, Bridgewater overthrew Thielen twice before the quarterback settled into a rhythm for a 15-yard completion to Johnson and several intermediate completions.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/vikings/story/1674427-offensive-tackles-shuffli... As for the offensive line, John Sullivan was back taking first-team reps at center after Joe Berger filled that role last week at the open OTAs, when Sullivan centered the second-team line. And, while right tackle Phil Loadholt got the first reps with the starting offense again this week, Andre Smith played there more throughout the practice and looked sharp.
Loadholt is coming back from a 2015 preseason Achilles injury that ended his season before it began.
“He’s missed a lot of time and I think he’s handled it extremely well,” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. “He’s got a long ways to go to get back to where he can be ready to go play in games, but if anyone can do it, Phil can and he’s working awfully hard to get that done.”
While the offense struggled at times, it was the defense that was missing some of its best players.
“You don’t like for anybody to have to miss any time, but those things happen and we realize that,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said of Alexander. “He’s been a good worker since he’s been in here, understanding the different things we’ve asked him to do … He’s come in, we’re playing him at the nickel, we’re playing him outside so they can get a bigger scope of what we’re trying to do schematically overall. I think that puts a little bit more added work to him mentally and just schematically what we’re asking him to do, but in the long haul we think it will pay big benefits for us.”
- After hitting on all five field goal attempts during last week’s open session, Blair Walsh was 7-for-8 on field goal attempts between 30 and 46 yards on Wednesday, with his only miss going wide left from 36 yards out in breezy conditions. “He’s come back stronger, more efficient,” special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said of Walsh. “He’s really had a good spring so far, indoors and outdoors.”
- When Everson Griffen jumped offside and Bridgewater overthrew a deep shot on a “free play,” Mike Zimmer made the entire team give him pushups.
- Tight end Kyle Rudolph had two nice catches, including one over Captain Munnerlyn – a matchup in which Rudolph has a 9-inch height advantage – and MyCole Pruitt looked sharp in his routes, catches and run blocking.
- Marcus Sherels, Michael Griffin and Troy Stoudemire took work returning punts.
- Hall of Fame defensive tackle John Randle attended practice and worked occasionally with some of the defensive tackles during down time.
- Obadiah Gamble – the 7-year old boy who gained fame for his “Hey, Teddy” YouTube video inviting the quarterback to his birthday party – also attended practice … wearing an Adrian Peterson jersey.