Offensive line looking for consistency

The Vikings' offensive line is having a hard time finding a consistent lineup as starting center John Sullivan hasn't played a preseason game yet. That has caused two different starters at center and at right guard.

The lineup the Vikings trotted out on offense against the Seahawks Saturday night had a much different look to it than what was expected a month ago when the Vikings opened training camp. There are reasons for growing concern that the lineup the Vikings had, especially up front, will be much different than fans were expecting.

The Vikings started right guard Anthony Herrera at center, who alternated series at center with backup Jon Cooper. On the series in which Herrera was at center, rookie Chris DeGeare was at right guard. Why the shuffling? What is being reported as a calf injury for starting center John Sullivan is starting to look more and more like there is something additionally wrong with Sully that isn't being reported.

There has been some speculation that the injury may involve the ankle surgery that Sullivan had in the offseason. If that is the case, it could explain why Sullivan hasn't taken the field in the month of August and is getting closer to moving into September.

While Herrera said he is embracing his role as a part-time center in addition to being a full-time guard, the reality is that, as the Vikings prepare for the start of the regular season in 10 days, the offensive line is splitting itself a little thin – perhaps too thin.

Herrera admitted that it is difficult to split his time doing two different assignments – taking snaps at both guard and center. The responsibilities at those two positions are very different and the result has been that Herrera hasn't been getting full repetitions at either position.

Are the Vikings ready to enter the 2010 season with significant questions on the offensive line? Considering how much of an investment has been made in getting Brett Favre to return, having question marks about those in charge of keeping him safe has to be concerning. Only time will tell if Sullivan's injury can heal sufficiently for him to play (and play effectively) when the Vikings meet the Saints Sept. 9. Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson said that the experience being gained by players like Herrera and DeGeare will be valuable heading forward, but, once the regular season starts, Hutch said the team will want to go with the starting five and stick with them to build cohesiveness. Until that happens, there are legitimate reasons for concerns.

MONDAY NOTES

  • The Vikings return to practice today with a short week as they prepare for the Denver Broncos Thursday night. Head coach Brad Childress hinted that the Vikings' starters might play in a fourth-game cameo appearance.

  • As short as the Vikings prep week is, it is even shorter for the Broncos. Not only do the Broncos have to travel to Minnesota to play the game, but Denver played Sunday night against the Steelers, making its practice week and travel schedule even tighter than the Vikings will have.

  • If the ongoing search for wide receiver help isn't completed after signing Javon Walker and trading for Greg Camarillo last week, there are a couple more high-profile players available. Over the weekend, Cincinnati released veteran Antonio Bryant, who signed a big offseason contract, but chronic knee problems and the signing of Terrell Owens led to Bryant being cut. In New York, the Jets released veteran Laveranues Coles Sunday, adding another veteran to the free-agent mix.

  • Fans thinking that Coles might be a fit with the Vikings may have to think twice. Rumor has it that, like the Vikings did with Koren Robinson several years ago, Coles was released because, if he was on the final 53-man roster this weekend, his entire 2010 salary would be guaranteed. The belief is that the Jets will re-sign Coles after Week 1 or he will retire as a Jet rather than trying to hook on with another team.

  • The first cuts are due by 3 p.m. Central Time Tuesday, as rosters need to be trimmed from 80 to 75. Rosters will have to be reduced to 53 by Saturday afternoon.

  • Former Viking Aundrae Allison was among the players released by the Jets over the weekend.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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.
  • VikingUpdate.com Recommended Stories