Mankato is less than two weeks away now. Let us continue our preview of the probable forthcoming camp battles (WR, S and NT are already in the books) with a look at the right guard position. This potential battle involves three main combatants and a possible mystery guest:
Despite his being given All-NFC North honors by NFL.com, there are still big questions about Fusco. The small-college player showed enough to win the starting job out of the gate in 2012 but it was obvious the coaching staff was never fully sold on him. They mixed in Geoff Schwartz over the course of the year in an effort to push Fusco to greater things. Clearly they were not completely pleased by the results because here we are in 2013 and Fusco is still on somewhat shaky ground. He will have to earn his starting spot all over again.
The Vikings picked two guys out of UCLA this year, Jeff Locke and Jeff Baca. Locke won his starting job the second Mike Priefer decided Chris Kluwe needed to be elsewhere. Baca will not have the benefit of a positional coach with an agenda trying to run a guy out of town. He will have to earn his job in open competition. Fusco has the advantage as the incumbent but Baca appears to have the talent to make a major push. It all depends on how hard Baca is willing to work. We’ll find out what the kid is made of.
Olsen, a starter for the Colts for part of 2012, at least gives you some veteran insurance at the guard position (on both sides). But like I said he also has starting experience and that makes him a legit threat to snag a spot with the first five. This guy is not super talented but he’s clearly tenacious and the Vikings clearly like what he brings to the table. If Fusco and Baca both falter, don’t be surprised if Olsen winds up running with the ones.
His size screams tackle but his lack of foot speed screams guard. The Vikings used him at tackle in minicamp so maybe they’re not worried about his slow feet. We’ll see how he is used in training camp. Right now he looks like a project.
Next time: Linebacker