The Minnesota Vikings have already lost starting left tackle Matt Kalil to surgery and the injured-reserve list, have had others fill in for a game or two here and there, and now comes the latest blow to their offensive line.
Starting right tackle Andre Smith, who signed a free-agent deal with the team in the offseason, is scheduled to have triceps surgery on Tuesday and will be placed on injured reserve.
With that latest development, the Vikings worked out former first overall draft pick Jake Long on Monday morning, Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer confirmed, and he is a possibility for the Vikings to sign.
Long was the top pick of the Miami Dolphins in the 2008 draft and played five seasons there before moving on to the St. Louis Rams and Atlanta Falcons over the last three seasons. While the 31-year-old has played in 100 games and started 96, he has also had two surgeries on his anterior cruciate ligament.
He hasn’t been with a team this year.
The Vikings finished minicamp in June with Phil Loadholt and Smith competing for the right tackle spot, Kalil entrenched at left tackle with T.J. Clemmings as a swing tackle, and John Sullivan and Joe Berger competing at center.
Loadholt retired before training camp. Sullivan was cut at the end of the preseason. Kalil ended up on injured reserve on Sept. 21 after having hip surgery.
Jeremiah Sirles has been playing right tackle for most of the last two games after Smith was injured on the sixth play of the Vikings’ Week 4 win. The week prior, Sirles had to fill in for Alex Boone at left guard after he was hurt early in that game.
On Sunday, right guard Brandon Fusco suffered a concussion on the eighth play of the game and second-year backup Zac Kerin was forced into duty, leaving only Berger and Boone among the Week 1 starters on the offensive line.
“We’re finding different guys to do different things to keep things going. That’s just part of it,” Zimmer said. “But you’ve got to give a lot of credit to our players. Zac Kerin came in there after (eight) plays the other day and played well. Sirles went out to right tackle and played well this week. I think these guys, the thing that I like about this football team is they prepare, they study, they get ready to go play, and they take this stuff serious so during the week when we get going, these guys are all into trying to get better.”
While the Vikings have struggled to find consistency, both in personnel and performance on their offensive, they are the only undefeated team remaining (5-0) in the NFL as they head to their bye week and hope to regain health for the remainder of their schedule.