O-Line Unsettled

The right side of the Vikings offensive line was something of a disappointment last year, but no significant changes were made to the roster as a result. This year, while neither position has a starter entrenched, the competition at both spots is starting to pick up.

There's been no questioning that the left side of the Vikings offensive line is among the best in the NFL. And why not? With the money paid Bryant McKinnie, Steve Hutchinson and Matt Birk, they should be among the league's best. But as the Vikings draw closer to the preseason opener Friday against the Rams, the right side of the line remains a big question mark.

Many assumed that since he started 14 games at right guard last year that Artis Hicks was a shoo-in for the job this year. But at Monday's practice, Anthony Herrera got the majority of the snaps with the first-team offense and Brad Childress has maintained that the job is still open for competition and whoever has the better training camp and preseason will get the starting nod.

The same is true (but probably to a lesser degree) at right tackle, where Ryan Cook, a converted center drafted with the pick the Vikings received from the Dolphins for Daunte Culpepper, is battling former starter Marcus Johnson for the starting role. Once again, Cook appears to have the upper hand, but the competition remains open and either could end up being the starter on opening day.

While many of the positions on the roster have already been determined by the coaching staff, these two critical positions remain up in the air and appear that it will remain that way until the final preseason game. While Hicks and Cook remain the favorites, until the word comes down officially, don't put bets down on anyone as a lock for either spot.

* Ray Edwards continues to be the talk of training camp. Not only has he been getting notice around training camp for his pass-rushing skills and moving into a starting role with Erasmus James still recovering from a serious knee injury, in the most recent issue of The Sporting News, Edwards was singled out as a player to watch for his pass-rushing ability.
* In the same issue of TSN, the magazine rated the quarterbacks for each team and the Vikings were listed as the worst situation for QBs in the NFC. By its rankings, the top five quarterbacks in the league all play in the AFC.
* Ben Leber is expected to return to practice today after missing almost all of training camp to date with a calf injury.
* Chester Taylor returned to practice Monday after missing most of the previous week with a forearm injury that he initially thought was a broken arm similar to the injury to one that sidelined Tony Richardson at midseason last year. It turned out to be a bruise.
* The team is waiting for the swelling in the knee of offensive lineman Dan Mozes to go down before he can have surgery on his right ACL, which was torn during Friday's practice with the Chiefs. He is expected to have the surgery in a couple of weeks and will be placed on injured reserve once he clears waivers. Former Gophers WR Paris Hamilton took his roster spot on the training camp squad.
* Mewelde Moore was excused from camp Monday to be with his wife, who gave birth to their first child.
* Former Viking Aaron Elling was released by the Falcons Monday.

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