May 29, 2013; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) lines up behind offensive lineman Brandon Fusco (63) in drills at organized team activities at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
One of the goals that the Minnesota Vikings had this offseason was to create competition at the Guard position. Recently, Coach Leslie Frazier has made it well known that last year’s starters are not locks to return to those spots:
Apr 26, 2012; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier addresses the media as he introduces the 2013 1st round draft picks at a press conference at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
“We’ve tried to, throughout this offseason, talk about creating more competition at the Guard spot. We think that will help our football team. Hopefully, between DeMarcus Love, Travis, Jeff and Seth, who we signed as well, we’ll create some competition and really push the guys who are starters to improve and if for some reason they stumble, we have some other guys that can step up.”
Last season, the weak spot on the Vikings offensive line was the interior. This is not the fault of veteran Center John Sullivan, who is currently recovering from microfracture surgery. Competition can always help to motivate current players or find new talent. From the sounds of things inside the Vikings camp, the news has already spread to the players on the team.
Oct 9, 2011; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Charlie Johnson (74) against the Arizona Cardinals at the Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Cardinals 34-10. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
One of last season’s starters at Guard, Charlie Johnson admitted he needs to improve: “I think I could get a little bit better at everything. When you’re inside at Guard, you have less room to work with, but you’re going up against bigger guys. It’s a different technique.”
Johnson added some words about the pay cut that he took this offseason: “I don’t think anybody would be happy if somebody takes money from you, but I look at it in the fact of, I did it, we were able to sign Phil Loadholt back, bring in Greg Jennings.”
Oct 7, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive guard Brandon Fusco (63) against the Tennessee Titans at the Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Titans 30-7. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The other current starting Guard, Brandon Fusco, had this to say: “I need to not play so out of control. That’s probably the biggest thing, not trying to be a superhero out there. … I need to use more of my hands. I know I got away with it in college.”
Fusco also spoke about how important it is for the offensive line to play as a unit: “We see the same things, the same looks out there. We often ask each other what to do on a play and to help out. We’re a good unit out there.”
The Vikings know they need to protect their investments in Running Back Adrian Peterson and Quarterback Christian Ponder. Hopefully this competition at Guard will help solidify this offensive line and help the team establish more of a balanced attack.