Minnesota Vikings: What’s next for the offensive line?


Today, it was announced that Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan would be placed on injured reserve with the designation to return following a procedure that he had done on his back.  In his place, veteran Joe Berger will be taking over the role.

Minnesota is having enough problems on their offensive line.  They have a struggling Matt Kalil at left tackle, left guard is the man who used to play right guard (Brandon Fusco), right guard (Mike Harris) is a journeyman who is a new starter, and a 4th round draft pick is starting at right tackle in T.J. Clemmings.  In the big picture, losing John Sullivan puts another spot on the offensive line in question.

However, Berger isn’t a usual backup.  He has stepped in at both center and guard in the past for the Minnesota Vikings and held his own.  While I don’t believe he’s an equal to John Sullivan, who is one of the best centers in the league, Berger is more than capable of holding down the spot until Sullivan is eligible return to action in week 9 against the St. Louis Rams.

The bigger issue is what happens in the event of another injury along the offensive line.

Nov 16, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Joe Berger (61) takes the field before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

If either a player goes down due to being hurt at guard or center, undrafted free agent Zac Kerin would likely be the man who the team goes to.  Berger would likely move over to guard and the rookie would become one of the most important people on the football field.  The only other player that would be likely to play guard is newly acquired Jeremiah Sirles from the San Diego Chargers, who is likely busy learning the protection schemes and preparing in case something like this happens.

As far as the offensive tackles, Sirles can play there as well.  But, it’s much more likely that Austin Shepherd would be the man to get the nod.

Prior to these injuries, the Vikings offensive line was in a pretty good place.  They had solid starters, veteran depth, and some youth to grow and develop.  Now, things are getting slim for the team, as their options are slowly diminishing.

We’ll see this new-look offensive line in action on September 14, 2014 on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.  Hopefully, this group of pass protectors and run blockers will prove their worth.

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