Lindsay's Versatility Huge Plus

Where would the Vikings' offensive line be without Everett Lindsay? Probably not holding together as well as it has during a trying season.

When the Vikings traded for Everett Lindsay back in training camp this summer, the plan was for him to provide some experienced depth and versatility to the offensive line. Because of injuries, he's done just that.

Lindsay (6-foot-4, 302 pounds) is no Randall McDaniel when it comes to athletic ability (few are), but he's one tough, tenacious, scrappy offensive lineman who quietly does a very steady and consistent job at virtually any position along the offensive line.

This season Lindsay has seen significant playing time at three different positions. He started four games at left guard when Corbin Lacina's strained calf was healing. He started five at left tackle while Brad Badger was out. He has also taken some snaps at right guard when David Dixon was banged up. He didn't open the season as a starter at any position, but as the season has gone on he's among the top five in number of offensive plays among Vikings linemen.

"Without him," assistant head coach/offensive line Mike Tice said, "we'd be in a lot of trouble."

Lindsay was a fifth-round draft pick by the Vikings out of Mississippi in 1993. As a rookie, he started the first 12 games at left tackle, where he played alongside a tight end named Mike Tice. That was before injuries began to wreak havoc with his playing career.

A shoulder injury ended his rookie season, and after reinjuring it in training camp the next summer he missed the entire 1994 season. He came back to play the following year but then missed the 1996 season after injuring his knee in a charity basketball game during the offseason.

When he came back in 1997, he was Tice's top backup all along the offensive line, appearing in every game. He saw action at both guard positions and was the starting center for the last five games that year after Jeff Christy went down with a broken leg.

"I really started understanding this offense when I started playing center," Lindsay said. "As a center you have to understand what everybody is supposed to do."

His versatility became his biggest asset. Lindsay played three positions and started at both right and left tackle in 1998. Then he was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in a deal worked out with the Vikings' former offensive coordinator, Brian Billick.

Lindsay mostly filled that same jack-of-all-trades role with the Ravens, too. Then he hooked up with the Cleveland Browns in 2000, where he started all 16 games at right guard. But some offseason personnel additions there made him available prior to this season.

It was the Korey Stringer tragedy in training camp that precipitated bringing Lindsay back. Nobody would have imagined how important his acquisition would prove to be this season.

"If I were to vote on the MVP of this team, it would be Everett," Lacina said. "Look at how important he's been, all the positions he's played. I couldn't do what he does. He's a guy you can count on to go in on a moment's notice at any spot."

When a guy like Lindsay doesn't play, because everyone's healthy, some question the value of having a higher-priced player in a backup role. But when someone goes down, everyone's thankful.

"He's probably got the toughest job, not knowing when and not knowing where he'll play," right tackle Chris Liwienski said. "He's had to step right into the game, and he put his guy to sleep. You have to be focused and you can't rattle easily."

Lindsay has wisely embraced the role and worked hard to become proficient at multiple positions, an asset that has probably lengthened his career in the NFL.

"First of all, he's smart enough to understand the system," Tice said. "He has to know the blocking schemes across the board. The second thing is Everett is strong and tough and able to adapt. He competes ferociously on the field. He does a lot of things you hope younger linemen emulate, because he's a pro."

A pro who has quietly been perhaps the most unsung of heroes this season.

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