It’s one thing to have players come and go with regularity, but the Minnesota Vikings are one of the few teams that will be on its fourth strength and conditioning coach in four years.
Strength and conditioning coach Brent Salazar is leaving the organization to join the U.S. Tennis Association.
When Mike Zimmer joined the team, he cleaned house of the majority of the coaches from the Brad Childress/Leslie Frazier administration. Among them were eight-year S&C coach Tom Kanavy, who had worked with the team under both Childress and Frazier. He was among the hires that Childress made when he took over the team, bringing Kanavy along with him when he arrived from Philadelphia.
In 2014, Zimmer took the same tactic, replacing the former coaching staff, including the top strength and conditioning coach position. Kanavy was replaced by Evan Marcus, who brought a new way of training, switching from a regimen that centered on using machines for most weight work to using free weights. The results were not as hoped.
Things went sour almost immediate. In a seven-month span in 2014, the Vikings lost four starters due to pectoral injuries – offensive linemen Phil Loadholt and Brandon Fusco, defensive end Brian Robinson and cornerback Josh Robinson. In 2015, several Vikings suffered lower back injuries that were attributed to the lifting protocol, including running back Jerick McKinnon, whose rookie season ended after suffering a back injury in the weight room that would require season-ending surgery.
Determining the Marcus’ workout style was the cause – or at least a contributing factor – to the rash of injuries, he was released and replaced last year by Salazar, who had spent nine years with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Salazar’s surprise move the USTA leaves the Vikings in search of yet another strength and conditioning coach – the third coach since Zimmer took over the fourth coach since 2013.
It’s unclear if the Vikings are going to look outside the organization to find a new S&C coach or will promote one of the two assistant strength and conditioning coaches they have on staff at the moment – Derik Keyes or Chaz Mahle.
One thing that is a constant around the NFL is that change comes. Players come and go. At a slower rate, coaches come and go. But, in what can only be described as a true rarity, the Vikings will be looking for their fourth strength and conditioning coach since 2013, which has to be some kind of record for turnover at that position in the NFL.