Coach Mike Zimmer said today that the Vikings will start the week of practice with the same offensive line configuration they had before the bye, with T.J. Clemmings and Jeremiah Sirles manning the tackle spots.
This afternoon’s practice, which starts in a few minutes, will be the team’s first chance to see Jake Long, who joined the team last week, in pads.
Zimmer said they need to see how Long, whose twice-reconstructed left knee is a question mark, handles some hitting before they start thinking about reshuffling their line so Long can protect Sam Bradford’s blind side.
“I haven’t seen him in pads yet. So expectations can change quickly one way or another,” he said. “I’m trying to go by what I see and go from there.”
Long, meanwhile, said he is “really excited” to “do some hitting” today.
He feels comfortable with his knowledge of the offense after using the bye week to get up to speed there. It helps that he has familiarity with offensive line coach Tony Sparano from their time together in Miami.
But he hasn’t practiced in pads since practices at the end of last season, when he played only 10 offensive snaps as a backup tackle for the Falcons.
“The mental side I’m fine with,” the 31-year-old said. “The physical side is getting back into it and knocking some rust off. Luckily, we had the bye week so I got to get out there and run around a little bit and practice Monday. I’m really just getting back into it, but I feel good so far.”
He added: “Whenever my number is called, I’m going to be ready to go.”