Chris DeGeare is used to shuffling positions on the offensive line, but he admits it's easier to be placed in one spot and stick there at the beginning of his rookie season.
That might not be so easy, or realistic. DeGeare spent the vast majority of his offseason and training camp working at left guard as Steve Hutchinson's backup, but when Anthony Herrera needed to take a couple days off because of back spasms, DeGeare was moved over to the right side.
It's all part of the learning process for the fifth-round draft pick who is likely to see plenty of time in the Vikings' preseason opener Saturday.
"I think I'm making pretty good progress, considering we're putting stuff in every day," DeGeare said at training camp. "I'm just trying to get in my playbook, learn the calls and the fronts because there's a lot of detail that goes into it. I'm comfortable with the offensive line coaches and everybody that I'm playing with."
He said Hutchinson, Herrera and center John Sullivan have been especially helpful in answering his questions and even offering unsolicited advice when they see an area that DeGeare can improve.
The 6-foot-4, 335-pounder would like to improve his technique, but he admits that moving from the college game at Wake Forest to the NFL game with the Vikings presents just as big of a challenge mentally.
"Just knowing what you have to do presnap makes everything so much better because you're not up at the line thinking too much," he said. "The toughness and mentality and learning the playbook, that's what's going to make the biggest difference.
"It's a different world. This playbook looks like a phonebook as to where in college it was like a package of worksheets. Football is football, but it's just getting down the terminology and scheme of things that's different."
The coaches already know DeGeare is built for the game physically. And, while he made the switch from guard to tackle for his senior season at Wake Forest, he is still taking it all in before his first preseason game, which is to be expected.
"He's a physical player, he's strong, he's got great strength in his legs. At times you can see him thinking a little bit," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "You'd like to see him play a little bit faster. He's played on the left side, and when Anthony went out we were able to put him on the right side. Again, when some of those guys are missing it gives others the opportunity to step up. He's made a good showing for himself, particularly with that first group."
About a week into camp, before Herrera's injury, DeGeare said he had taken only one snap at right guard and one snap at left tackle.
He proved his versatility in college, but there is no question the Vikings' backups along the offensive line have to be prepared to play a lot of different positions.
"We want to see him on both sides because of the position flexibility thing. If you are going to have seven or eight guys (active on game days), some guys will obviously need to be able to swing," head coach Brad Childress said. "Somebody is going to have to play center, maybe a right tackle is going to have to flip to left tackle if that was to be the case. It may not be the most comfortable thing. He is a natural right hander but yet you have to see those guys in there and see if they can flip it over in their brain because when they get that battlefield commission you don't really care. If he is one of the seven or eight guys, they have to man a spot they are not used to."
While DeGeare is experiencing a lot of new challenges on the football field this summer and holding up nicely, one of his answers was a little surprising … and maybe a sign that he's not overwhelmed by anything on the field. When asked what has been the biggest surprise for him at camp, it had nothing to do with learning the Vikings' system or offensive line schemes.
"To be honest, it's probably the fans. I didn't know it was going to be this packed around here," he said. "I think that's probably the biggest surprise to me outside of football. Everything inside of football I've kind of expected."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
DeGeare adjusts without incident
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