The Minnesota Vikings prioritized beefing up their O-line depth this offseason but injuries and retirements are already making that depth disappear.
It was the big story of the offseason but already the upbeat narrative is being turned into another tale of woe.
The Vikings spent money and draft picks adding to their options on the offensive line but just two days into training camp, it looks like two of the men who were counted on to provide competition/competence off the bench are out of the picture.
Earlier this week veteran right tackle Phil Loadholt hung up his cleats after deciding his body could no longer take the pounding. Loadholt missed all of last season with a torn Achilles.
Now it appears the Vikings will also lose one of their array of guard options as Mike Harris reportedly is headed to the NFI (non-football-related injury) list and might not be back on the field in awhile.
Mike Zimmer told the media Friday afternoon that Harris is dealing with a “medical issue.” Last year Harris was a surprise starter at right guard and performed well despite low expectations. He was brought back this offseason on a one-year/$2 million contract.
With Harris going down, the Vikings might have to accelerate the development of rookie Willie Beavers, who was drafted to sit and learn with an eye toward the future.
Minnesota figures to go with Brandon Fusco as the starter at right guard but the plan was for Harris to at least push him. Now it might be Beavers pushing Fusco instead.
The Vikings’ other option at guard? Long-time super-sub Joe Berger. Though I’m sure the Vikings would prefer to keep Berger in the mix at center in case John Sullivan doesn’t return to form after missing last season with a back injury.
With two men already down on the O-line, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Vikings pick up a veteran after cuts.
Yes, it’s still July and we’re already talking about the Vikings having to patch up their offensive line. Remember how deep it was going to be?
It doesn’t take much to flip a narrative.