When it comes to the offensive line, one thing players and coaches talk about is how important consistency is, making sure players are in the same spot with the same group of guys around them. If that happens, they can get used to playing with one another, learn their strengths and weaknesses, and know how each handles different types of pass rushes.
The best offensive lines are usually the ones that stay together for several years, but the Minnesota Vikings had a lot of moving pieces during their offseason workouts. They brought in multiple players as free agents and were trying different lineups together to see what worked.
The player that probably moved around the most was Joe Berger. He worked at center and guard with both the first- and second-team offenses. That’s been something he has done throughout his 12-year career, so he is more than comfortable doing it.
“I think just getting used to it,” he said when asked why it’s so easy for him to move around. “I’ve done that my whole career, since a rookie, bouncing around, and it’s worked out.
“Over my career I’ve kind of enjoyed moving a round a little bit, playing multiple positions and if that’s what it comes down to this year that’d be fine.”
While most offensive linemen seem to want to work next to the same players on a consistent basis to help build chemistry with each other, Berger believes moving everyone around can be a good thing. Players get hurt all the time. The Vikings lost two of their starters before the first game of the regular season last year.
So by shuffling around all these pieces during their offseason workouts, the players are getting used to playing with everyone.
“We’ve got a great group. And I think offensive line, that’s what this time of year about, is getting used to playing next to everybody,” Berger said. “So with a good room you can roll guys in and out and it hopefully goes unnoticed. I mean, in season, it might have to come to that.”
New players are not the only changes on the Vikings offensive line. They also have a new offensive line coach in Tony Sparano this season, so there has been some adjustments they have to make there.
Berger said that he has brought a new twist to everything, but at the end of the day everything is somewhat familiar. After all, Berger is entering into his 12th NFL season and there isn’t much that can surprise him at this point.
“Offensive line play is pretty much the same,” he explained. “It’s just the amount of how you get it done, what kind of stuff you emphasize. I don’t know that it’s changed drastically, just maybe some details here and there.”
Even though offensive linemen usually want consistency around them, Berger knows the value of moving pieces. Injuries seem to affect the offensive line every season. It is the NFL after all, so by changing things up during the offseason workouts the players can get used to playing next to a multitude of players, not just the expected starters.