Clancy Barone and Tony Sparano watched film together often. The two veteran offensive line coaches, while Barone led Vikings tight ends, shared insights from about 60 years of combined coaching experience.
So the Vikings are in capable hands, Barone says, as he and Andrew Janocko take over for the late Sparano as co-offensive line coaches just five weeks before Week 1. “There’s no time to change anything,” Barone said, so the Vikings offensive line proceeds on the foundation laid by Sparano, who died July 22 at age 56.
“I’m not Tony Sparano, but luckily I’ve done this before with Atlanta, with Denver,” Barone said. “I’ve had pretty good success doing it. So, in that regard it’s a little bit like going back home again, but in no way am I trying to fill Tony’s shoes.”
Barone, who turned 53 last week, got his start as an offensive line coach before transitioning to tight ends in the NFL. He coached the Broncos offensive line during their Super Bowl-winning 2015 season. The Vikings hired him last year to coach tight ends.
The constant communication with Sparano, according to Barone, gives him a head start in his new role.
“The details of the techniques and learning about the players,” Barone said. “Who can do what? Who struggles with this technique? Who excels at that technique? To have that in your toolbox I think really pays off.”
Janocko, 30, gets his first chance to help lead a position group after serving as Sparano’s assistant last season. The sixth-year NFL coach has been a vocal presence during offensive line drills in camp.
“I do think continuity is important,” Janocko said. “Trying to keep the room the same. Trying to keep the foundation and the fundamentals we’ve been working on the last couple years.”
Guard Mike Remmers hobbled off the field under his own power about an hour into Tuesday’s practice. The veteran was evaluated by the Vikings athletic training staff and didn’t return after suffering an apparent lower leg injury. Head coach Mike Zimmer acknowledged he saw the injury but declined to provide any insight.
Cousins meets defense
Quarterback Kirk Cousins has started to get a full glimpse of the NFL’s reigning No. 1 defense in practices, because players finally put on pads this week. The initial result is typically fewer wins from the offense, since defenders can flex their muscle by pressing receivers or beating offensive linemen.
“There aren’t a lot of players running wide open or blown coverages,” Cousins said, “where they’re giving you a touchdown or a big gain simply because of a mental error.”