Matt Kalil’s NFL career could not have gotten off to a better start. After being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Kalil stepped right in as the Vikings blindside protector and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
It looked like the Vikings had found their Ron Yary of the new millennium.
But then 2013 happened, and it didn’t look like the same Matt Kalil showed up. While the Vikings offensive line was still rated as the sixth best unit in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, several times the group didn’t pass the eye test, especially with speed rushers attacking Kalil’s side.
Now, we’re learning that there may have been a good reason those rushers were getting around the edge.
Kalil told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press that a knee injury hampered in 2013. Kalil had a “minor” surgery on his knee in April, and has been mostly limited thus far in OTAs.
“It was some problems with my knee swelling up, becoming inflamed,” Kalil told the Pioneer Press. “And that affected the way I move and stuff like that. But that’s football. It happens. You got to play through it, so I’ll be alright.”
Kalil specifically told the Pioneer Press that the injury bothered him in the team’s last five games in 2013, calling it a “progressive injury.” The Vikings undoubtedly hope that Kalil’s surgery will stop the progression, and he can get back to being the franchise left tackle the team saw in 2012.
With a potential new franchise quarterback in place with Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings need to make sure they can protect their investment. That’s why they drafted Kalil, though at the time they thought he would be protecting someone else.
Kalil has a long way to go before he’s considered one of the great offensive lineman in Vikings history, but playing up to his talent level after a bad 2013 season would be a good start.