The five starting offensive line positions would appear to be set.
Bryant McKinnie will line up at left tackle, even though there are plenty of people rooting for Phil Loadholt to shift over there. Steve Hutchinson will be at left guard, John Sullivan at center and Anthony Herrera at right guard. The aforementioned Mr. Loadholt will begin his second season as the starting right tackle.
Things to watch for in camp:
The health of Hutch. He battled back problems all last season, and was not his old dominating self. If Hutch could return to close to 100% health, it would go a long way toward helping Adrian Peterson get that yards-per-carry average back up where it was in 2007 and 2008.
The development of Sullivan. He was, to me, the weak link on the line last year. He needs to get better if the Vikes are going to have a truly fearsome offense. He did battle an ankle injury last season, so perhaps with that healed his mobility and leverage will be improved.
The development of Loadholt. He has the physical tools to be one of the best tackles in the league. Now it’s all about refining his technique. Eventually, he should become the left tackle.
As for Mr. McKinnie. You get what you get with good old Mount McMeathead. Some days he’s going to look like a Pro Bowl tackle, other days he’s going to give you the impression that he’s never played organized football in his life. I really don’t see him coming into camp with some new ferocious attitude. He’s a big turd who’s always gotten by on physical gifts, and to expect him to suddenly develop the heart of a lion at this point would be wishful thinking at best.
Do any of the non-starters from last year have a chance to push any of the presumed starters for this year? There’s no one who jumps out, but you have to believe that the brass are at least hoping someone will emerge to make a run at Anthony Herrera at right guard. There was talk all off-season of adding someone like Chester Pitts (who has now signed with Seattle), and that indicates to me that Herrera is ripe for the picking – if someone wants to pick him.
2010 Draft pick Chris DeGeare, who played both tackle and guard in college, would seem the most likely candidate to spring from the pack and contend for a starting spot. Ryan Cook is the most veteran guy among the back-ups, and should step into the departed Artis Hicks‘ role as #1 sub. Some may cringe at that prospect.
Jon Cooper and Drew Radovich would seem to have the inside track on winning bench roles. Neither, one assumes, has any chance of usurping a starter.