Marcus Johnson Still a Starter

Marcus Johnson

As a second-round pick in 2005, Marcus Johnson began the season as a starter before being one of many offensive linemen to get the hook at one point last year. But Johnson finished the season as a starter and picks up in 2006 where he left off.

Mike Tice's instincts as a former offensive line coach told him that Marcus Johnson had big-time potential that was equaled by his big-time size (6-6, 321 pounds).

Tice, in fact, liked Johnson so much that he made him the starter for the first four games of his rookie season at right guard. When that didn't pan out, Johnson was moved to right tackle and started four games at that position before sitting out the final two games because of an ankle injury.

While Tice is no longer around as the Vikings coach, Johnson's potential hasn't been overlooked by new coach Brad Childress.

The Vikings' second-round pick in 2005 remains atop the depth chart at right tackle as the team prepares to open training camp. The feeling among all involved is Johnson is best suited to play tackle because of his long arms.

He did struggle at times with false-start penalties as a rookie, but the hope among the coaching staff is a more mature Johnson will be able to avoid such miscues.

A successful season from Johnson would be a big boost to a line that figures to be very strong on the left side with Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson and tackle Bryant McKinnie.

Johnson will lineup alongside right guard Artis Hicks, who was acquired in a draft-weekend trade with Philadelphia. Hicks is highly thought of by Childress, the Eagles' former offensive coordinator.

CAMP CALENDAR: Rookies and selected veterans will report on July 27; the remainder of the veterans will report July 30; training camp officially will open July 1. Training camp will break from Mankato, Minn., on Aug. 18. There will be an evening practice against the Kansas City Chiefs on Aug. 4.



NOTES

  • Despite their needs at linebacker, the Vikings expressed no interest in taking Virginia's Ahmad Brooks in the NFL supplemental draft. "He is a talented football player," said Rick Spielman, the Vikings' vice president of player personnel. "But he had character issues and medical issues, and that wasn't something we were looking to get involved in." The Cincinnati Bengals took Brooks in the third round of the supplemental draft.

  • Turns out the Vikings have a seventh investor in their ownership group. Jeffrey Wilf, the nephew of owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, has had a small stake in the franchise. Jeffrey Wilf is a senior at a "prestigious East Coast university," according to his biography. Jeffrey is the fourth member of the Wilf family to have a stake in the team. He joins Zygi, Mark and Leonard. The other limited partners are David Mandelbaum, Alan Landis and Reggie Fowler.

  • The Vikings recently had discussions with officials from South Dakota about holding training camp in Sioux Falls. This came only days after the Vikings signed a three-year deal to continue holding training camp in Mankato, Minn. That deal contains an opt-out clause for the Vikings after each year. Team officials, however, said the organization is committed to staying in Mankato.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think it's a key to any offense. I think it's going to be a key to being a better player." -- Tight end Jermaine Wiggins on the importance of him having added quickness in the Vikings' offense as a result of his noticeable weight loss this offseason.

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