Notebook: Offensive line still in flux

Anthony Herrera (Alissa Foreman/VU)

The Vikings got Anthony Herrera back on a limited basis Monday, but it was somebody else taking most of the first-team reps at right guard. The Vikings are still searching for the right combination on the line.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier gave new starting left tackle Charlie Johnson a positive review after his initial preseason outing, with one caveat – admitting that Johnson wasn't challenged much by Tennessee's pass-rushing game.

"Charlie did a good job. Wasn't challenged a whole lot on the edge in that game. Probably his strength in that ballgame was his run blocking," Frazier said. "Just didn't get challenged very much on the edge by their defensive ends, so he graded out well. This next week, against [Seattle] may be a little bit more of a challenge, but we'll see."

Johnson is attempting to take over for Bryant McKinnie, who was released at the start of training camp, and Frazier has said the job is Johnson's to earn. Quarterback Donovan McNabb played 15 snaps and avoided being sacked in his two series of play.

Although the Vikings plan to use a lot of two-tight ends sets, Visanthe Shiancoe, their most accomplished receiver at the position, was held out because of a hamstring injury, but the Vikings didn't give Johnson too much help with the remaining incumbent tight ends known more for their blocking ability, like Jim Kleinsasser and Jeff Dugan.

"It was a change of pace. Sometimes [the tight end is] over there to block what we were running and other times it was to get into the route," Frazier said. "We had confidence that Charlie would be able to handle the one-on-one situations in that ballgame. We're not game-planning any of these first two teams in the preseason so guys have to stand up. We're not saying we're going to give you help in these first two preseason games."

There was a bit of a change-up in the Vikings offensive line for Monday's practice. Anthony Herrera was taken off the physically-unable-to-perform list and got limited reps at right guard, but Chris DeGeare, who started in place of Herrera in the preseason opener, was working at right tackle with the second team on Monday. In his place, free-agent signee Scott Kooistra was getting the majority of the work with the first team at right guard.

Frazier called it "a good sign" that Herrera was back on the field practicing a week earlier than expected, and he may even get a chance to play a series or two on Saturday. The coaches staff also wants to see if DeGeare can play tackle.

"He actually graded OK. There were some things that he could do better, and I'm sure he would say the same," Frazier said of DeGeare's performance at right guard. "But overall, he did a pretty decent job. He'll get some other opportunities."

Frazier indicated they would also like to see how Kooistra does at tackle, and he also put Ryan Cook in the mix to compete for the job at right guard.

"You know on that offensive line if you can find a couple guys that can [play multiple positions], it just helps you numbers-wise when you come to game day," Frazier said.

NOTES

  • TE Visanthe Shiancoe isn't expected to see any playing time Saturday as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury suffered last week, but Frazier said the injury isn't any worse than thought and indicated Shiancoe might play if it were a regular-season game.

  • In addition to Shiancoe, linebackers Kenny Onatolu (foot) and Heath Farwell (hamstring), offensive lineman Thomas Welch (glute) and defensive end D'Aundre Reed all sat out of Monday's practice.

  • Jaymar Johnson, Stephen Burton, Cord Parks, Devon Torrence, Lorenzo Booker and Marcus Sherels all took turns fielding punts.

  • The defense dropped two interception opportunities. The first came in seven-on-seven work when Christian Ponder threw a pass that went between the hands of Michael Jenkins, but also was dropped by rookie linebacker Ross Homan. The second was during full-team work when Joe Webb through a pass that deflected off the hands of cornerback Marcus Sherels.

  • Linebacker Mark Washington did take advantage of his interception opportunity. When Rhett Bomar had a pass go through the hands of receiver Devin Aromashodu and into the grasp of Washington.

  • Frazier said he intended to get Bomar into the preseason opener, but that never happened. He said Bomar wasn't being disciplined for his arrest in Mankato for suspicion of drunk driving.

  • The throw of the day came courtesy of McNabb, who fired a bullet into a tight window of defenders that Bernard Berrian caught.

  • Rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph had the catch of the day, diving to come up with a 20-yard seam route thrown by McNabb.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.


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