DeGeare is switching gears

Vikings fifth-round draft pick Chris DeGeare talked about making the transition to the NFL. What parts are adjustments and what is coming easier? He talked about both aspects.

Chris DeGeare is used to switching gears. He has been asked to do it often over the last four years of his football life, so making the transition to the NFL game is one more adjustment for him.

It's the speed of the NFL game that sticks out for the fifth-round draft pick.

DeGeare has just experienced practices with the Vikings, and when he was talking last week those practices hadn't included the likes of Kevin Williams and Jared Allen. This week, those two Pro Bowl defensive linemen have returned to the practice field, which would stand to reason that it's yet another adjustment for the rookie trying to block anyone that lines up across from him.

"I tell you what, football is football, but it's a lot quicker than it was in college," said the former Wake Forest Demon Deacon. "It's such a faster pace trying to get down the lingo. Football is football, but it's just that everybody calls it different. I'm just trying to get in my playbook, all the calls and adjustments and everything like that. Those are the two toughest adjustments to the NFL."

The 6-foot-4, 325-pounder is used to transitions. He endured plenty of them in college, both on and off the football field.

Off the field, he suffered the crushing setback of the death of his mother, Genetria, during his college career and it caused his academics to slip. That forced him to take a year away from the football field.

When he returned, the coaches asked him to make another adjustment. After spending his first three seasons as a guard, he was asked to take over what most consider the most difficult position on the offensive line – left tackle.

"It was all left tackle for me (last year). Left tackle, you just have to get used to playing in space. You're dealing with quicker, leaner guys," he said. "Inside (at guard) is more of the heavyweights, of course. I think I'm a lot better guard than I am tackle, but I'm going to play both – I've played both."

And he excelled at both. As a full-time starter at right guard, he graded out above 82 percent efficiency in each of the 2006 and 2007 seasons. When he returned to action in 2008 at left tackle, he was given a 90 percent efficiency grade from the Wake Forest coaching staff.

His new coaching staff with the Vikings is giving him the chance to settle in at guard. For now, that has meant left guard while Pro Bowl player Steve Hutchinson recovers from shoulder surgery.

"As soon as I get that down, I'm sure they'll probably shuffle me around and see how I'll do other places," he said.

Most likely, that would include an attempt at right guard, where he might be able to battle Anthony Herrera for a starting spot. After playing right guard for three seasons at Wake Forest, he said the switch back to that side of the line wouldn't require much of an adjustment.

"That wouldn't be a difficult transition. You have just have to reverse everything over," he said.

While there is a lot for DeGeare to get accustomed to at the NFL level, the scheme is not one of them. The Vikings rely more on a zone blocking scheme, and that's something he has done at the high school and college level, he said.

So what happens if things get a little more aggressive, both in the blocking scheme and the amount that DeGeare is expected to learn before the regular season starts? Not a problem, he says.

"I ran a mix of everything. We had a little wing-T. We were multiple my first year. We've done spread zone, so I've done just about everything," he said. "A lot of change."

He can expect more of the same over the next few months as the coaching staff gets to know his strengths and weaknesses before homing in on a position for him. DeGeare will just have to adjust, again.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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