The Vikings' offensive line was considered one of the best in the NFL at one point, but that was not the case last season.
The unit had a first-year starter at center in John Sullivan, who replaced perennial Pro Bowl pick Matt Birk, and a rookie at right tackle in second-round pick Phil Loadholt. Right guard Anthony Herrera and left guard Steve Hutchinson, one of the best in the business, battled injury issues.
All of this played a part in the Vikings run game dropping to 13th in the NFL (119.9 yards per game) after being fifth in 2008 (146.1 yards per game).
But coach Brad Childress feels the line took too much of the blame and used a question about the unit to convey his feelings.
"A couple of those guys had (surgical) procedures last year and obviously you had a new center and a new right tackle," Childress said. "I'm glad you asked that question because it gets bandied about. It depends on who you read. Somebody will say it's one of the better lines in the NFL. Whether it's just in the horizon that I look at locally, you might talk about them in a bad way, use their name in vain.
"I would point out that it was the second scoring offense (in the NFL). ‘Yeah, but you didn't run the ball as well.' No, but we threw it better. You have to give something to get something. You can't have it all ways. Rarely do you see the top rushing team be the top passing team or vice versa. Really all we care about is finding a way to get into the end zone and bottom line win the game. It will be good to have those guys all together again and healthy."
Herrera had shoulder surgery after the 2008 season and spent much of last spring and summer rehabbing instead of getting stronger. That has changed this year. Hutchinson had shoulder surgery after the 2009 season after playing through the issue.
Then there is left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who was elected to the Pro Bowl last season but was kicked off the team after missing meetings and practices. McKinnie said after the fact he also was dealing with injuries.
The Vikings were not pleased with how McKinnie handled the situation and are hoping he makes strides in the maturity department.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I talked to Adrian on a number of different occasions. I'm pretty sure what he's doing down in Houston (working out), he's not on a lark down there. He'll be right where he needs to be when we see him next. Would I like to see him a month ago? Absolutely. You know how I'm wired." — Coach Brad Childress talking about the fact running back Adrian Peterson has not participated in the voluntary portion of the Vikings' offseason program at Winter Park.
YOUNG BACKS GETTING WORK
With Adrian Peterson electing to train in Houston and Toby Gerhart unable to take part in most of the Vikings' Organized Team Activities because of his responsibilities at Stanford, running backs Albert Young and Darius Reynaud have been able to get numerous first-team reps this spring.
That is especially helpful for Reynaud, who has been converted from wide receiver to running back and can use all the work. Some of that workload will be decreased during the mandatory minicamp from June 11-13 when Peterson and Gerhart are expected to be in attendance.
MEDICAL WATCH: Cornerback Cedric Griffin, who tore his left ACL in the NFC title game, and linebacker E.J. Henderson, who broke his leg in December, continue to rehab their injuries in hopes of returning at some point in 2010. Guard Steve Hutchinson (shoulder) and nose tackle Pat Williams (elbow) are coming off offseason surgeries and are believed to have made progress. Antoine Winfield also continues to recover from the broken right foot he suffered last October.
Childress: Give something to get something
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