The Minnesota Vikings have been focusing on the offensive line for the better part of the last year.
A year later, Loadholt is gone, having retired before the start of training camp, and Sullivan has been splitting first-team reps with Joe Berger.
The 2016 complication has been that Brandon Fusco, in his third season in Norv Turner’s offense, is making his third switch.
In 2014, he showed the new coaching staff enough that he was rewarded with a contract extension.
In 2015, he moved to left guard by design.
This year, he’s back at his natural position but has been sidelined, allowing 2015 Sully-replacement Berger to make his case for a starting job one slot to the right.
Fusco has returned to practice this week and Turner said he has been pleased with his performance and production.
“He came back, and I thought he has had good practices,” Turner said. “He’s back at right guard and I think what we’re doing in the run fits him. We expect him to have, really, a good year.”
Last season, Fusco admitted that he didn’t feel physically right in terms of his strength and he struggled with his move from the right side to the left.
Being back at his natural position has Turner seeing many of the same positive qualities he did in his first season with the Vikings in 2014, when Fusco was a very strong right guard.
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Turner believes that a move back to right guard will be a positive and, from the coach’s view, he’s passing the eyeball test.
“He really looks good to me,” Turner said. “He has missed a few days, but, when he came back, he looks real good.”
A year ago, a couple of O-line injuries sent Vikings fans into horn-curling panic. A year later, not so much.
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If Fusco can return to the form that earned a second NFL contract, the Vikings O-line will be just fine heading into combat when the bullets matter and casualties are counted.
August offensive line questions are becoming commonplace for Vikings fans. But, this time around, the concerns of Plan A are lessened. The longer the 2016 Vikings can stick to Plan A on the O-line, the better. Having Fusco at right guard is a tenet of Plan A.