Charlie Johnson, Scott Kooistra Give Vikings O-Line Options

I’m starting to think the Vikings aren’t entirely happy with their offensive line situation going into training camp. What gave it away? Oh, just the fact that in the last couple days they’ve signed not one but two veteran tackles.

In a move that can only be described as “under the radar,” the Vikings on Sunday picked up Scott Kooistra, late of the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens. In 8 years, Kooistra has played 84 games but only started one. His acquisition falls firmly under the heading of “adding depth.”

The second guy signed is much more of a threat to the incumbent starters than Kooistra. Today the Vikings picked up Charlie Johnson who spent the last five seasons blocking for Peyton Manning with the Colts. Johnson has started 54 games in his career, and may start more with the Vikings depending on how Leslie Frazier and company feel about certain of their current first-team linemen.

And here comes the big question: Is Charlie Johnson a threat to bump Bryant McKinnie from the starting left tackle job? I would tend to doubt it. McKinnie is making enough money that you almost have to start him or cut him, and I’m pretty sure the Vikings don’t want to cut him. Pretty sure.

There’s also the possibility, as Judd Zulgad mentioned in his Access Vikings post, that the Vikes are thinking of moving Johnson inside to guard. Johnson has played guard in the past, and the Vikings figure to have an issue at that position with Anthony Herrera opening the season on the PUP list. I also wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of Johnson moving to right tackle and pressing Phil Loadholt, who last season became even more of a human turnstile than McKinnie.

At the very least the Vikings have sent a message to their players with these signings. The message is in two parts: 1) We didn’t trade for Donovan McNabb just to watch him get killed; and, 2) If you’re a 2010 offensive line starter or reserve, you better have your butt in gear from the start because jobs are going to be on the line.

Good message.

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Tags: Bryant Mckinnie Charlie Johnson Minnesota Vikings Phil Loadholt Scott Kooistra

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