Offensive line coming together

The Vikings entered training camp with huge questions on their offensive line. So far, they have been better than expected with two first-time starters.

Is it possible that the two biggest concerns with the Vikings entering training camp – the offensive line and quarterback – should be a cause for little concern anymore? The signing of Brett Favre is expected to take care of the latter. The play of the offensive line in the first two preseason games is looking like it will take care of the former.

When Brett Favre dropped back to pass last Friday and was buried by linebacker Corey Mays before releasing a pass deep down the middle of the field intended for Percy Harvin, it may have looked like the offensive line was at fault. Instead, the Chiefs simply brought more players than the Vikings could block, taking a gamble that a quarterback making his first start with his team wouldn't be able to adjust quickly enough. Favre got the pass off and it became a teaching point about the nuances of the offense he still has to master.

As for the offensive line, with new starters John Sullivan at center and right tackle Phil Loadholt at right tackle, they have yet to give up a sack.

"From that standpoint, pretty good. You have to attribute that to line work, running back work (and) quarterbacks getting the ball out of the hand," head coach Brad Childress said. "There were far too many of those (sacks) last year. As I mentioned to you before, it always doesn't fall at the feet of the offensive linemen. It usually is somebody not getting open or a guy missing a protection or a technique flaw, or something like that. So they are coming (along) that way. Also, knock on wood, we are doing a good job of taking care of the football the first couple of games."

Sullivan impressed the coaching staff with his work ethic in the offseason and they consistently expressed confidence in his abilities to make the correct calls at the line of scrimmage. Loadholt was given every opportunity to win the starting job at right tackle and indicated in training camp that he has to take more of an overall big-picture view of the blocking schemes with the Vikings than he did at Oklahoma.

"One of the main differences is the responsibilities on every play. You've got to know what's going on, what the backs are doing and things like that," Loadholt said.

The Vikings are the only team that hasn't given up a sack through two preseason games after ranking 28th in the league last year in sacks per pass play, giving up 45 sacks.

They also haven't turned over the ball, but Childress wouldn't necessarily say the two statistics are related.

"I'm not willing to say that is how those two align," he said. "I think it is a calibration of things. Obviously, if you're not sacked, you don't have a chance for a strip sack where the ball is knocked out from the back of the pocket. They (quarterbacks) have been rushed. They have done a decent job of getting the ball out and living to see another snap."

In fact, the Vikings knew that Kansas City would be aggressive with their new defense in the regular season, but they seemed a bit surprised at the frequency of blitzing during a preseason games. It turned out to be a good run-up to regular-season games, where the Vikings will start out with the Cleveland Browns and their 3-4 defense.

To date, the Vikings offense is averaging 355.5 yards per game in the first two preseason games, nearly 100 yards more than the team's 261.3-yard average in the 2008 preseason. They finished the regular season ranked 17th in total offense.

AT THE READY

Viking Update's Bob Lurtsema has been saying since the Favre rumors started that the Vikings' receivers had better be ready, whether they are the first option on a play or the fourth option. Adrian Peterson confirmed that sentiment this week.

"When Brett's under center, you have to look at it like it's Allen Iverson on the basketball court. You never know when it can come and you've got to be prepared for it," Peterson said.

As Favre gets accustomed to the routes and reads the receivers are making, his ability to find and connect with the second, third and fourth reads should only improve.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

First-round draft pick Percy Harvin is the top choice for rookie of the year, according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King. Harvin, the 22nd pick in April's draft, was the highest draft pick among King's top-10 impact rookies. King didn't go into much on why certain players made his list.

"Impact player beginning opening day," was all he wrote about Harvin.

NOTES

  • Punter Chris Kluwe gave a clue as to how seriously the players are taking the reports of a "schism" in the Vikings locker room. At the beginning of Thursday's practice, a line of cameras were shooting footage of the offense and a group of one cameraman and two support people broke off to film the defense. Kluwe turned and said to anyone who was listening, "There's a schism in the camera crew."

  • WR Bernard Berrian continued to run routes during at least the individual portion of practices that were open to the media. Berrian has been working his way back from a hamstring injury suffered in the preseason opener.

  • TE Jim Kleinsasser looked like he would only be an observer at practice. He injured his hand in the opener and has had it wrapped since then.

  • LB Erin Henderson returned to practice after he didn't participate in Wednesday's practice. Henderson appeared to suffer a shoulder injury during the Chiefs game.


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