Panthers tackle prepping for first start

The Vikings will be a facing a Carolina offensive line that is significantly shorthanded. Geoff Schwartz talked about preparing for his first NFL start against a potent Vikings defensive line.

The Minnesota Vikings come into this week's game with an NFL-high 41 sacks and face a Carolina Panthers offense that will be without starting offensive tackles Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah, both on injured reserve.

Not a great combination for the Panthers.

Geoff Schwartz will make his first NFL start on Sunday night.

Schwartz, a seventh-round pick in 2008 who spent his rookie season on the practice squad, said the biggest problem he had adjusting from college to the NFL was learning to line up in a three-point stance. That's largely because Schwartz almost never did that at the University of Oregon, where he operated with his hands on his knees.

"I spent three years in college never getting in a three-point stance," said Schwartz. "I might have taken three to five reps ever in a three-point stance. So I focused on that last year, just getting comfortable in that. And I worked on it in the off-season with Jordan Gross on that. I think that's the biggest thing I've improved on is just playing from a three-point stance."

Although it might seem like an easy change, Schwartz said the concept takes some getting used to.

"You run-block better from a three-point stance and your angles are a little different. I don't know how to explain it but it's just a whole different game. Mainly the run blocking is different when you're in the three, rather than the two," Schwartz said.

Schwartz spent last year on the practice squad and coaches urged him to get stronger.

He thinks he accomplished that goal.

"You want to be on the roster, but then I realized I needed a year to get stronger and to mentally get ready and also physically to lift every day," said the 6-foot-6, 331-pound Schwartz. "I used it as an opportunity to get better. In the end it helped me out a lot."

Running back Jonathan Stewart, who ran behind Schwartz at Oregon, said he's confident his former college teammate can do the job.

"We go way back to the days where he had long hair," said Stewart. "I guess you could say he got me to the NFL (blocking for me). He's got great feet, that's one of the reasons I think they drafted him. Big guy, good feet, I think he's going to do well this week. He did well in college while I was in the backfield with him.

"He's more aggressive now with his hands. I think that's something that Mags (offensive-line coach Dave Magazu) has been trying to get him to do. Just being more aggressive, he's such a big guy, he can do a lot with his size."


  • WR Muhsin Muhammad returned to practice Thursday after taking a day off. He should play this week.

  • QB Jake Delhomme (broken finger) did not practice for a second straight day and is not likely to play this week.

  • CB Richard Marshall (ankle) missed his second straight day of practice Thursday. If he can't go, Captain Munnerlyn will get the start against his childhood idol Brett Favre.

  • CB Captain Munnerlyn could start this week if Richard Marshall is unable to get back on the field.

  • LB Na'il Diggs practiced full for the second straight day.

  • RB Jonathan Stewart practiced full on Thursday and appears ready for this week.

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