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Mankato notes: Kalil looks like he was built to play left tackle

  • July 31, 2012 - 7:19 AM

First down ...

Matt Kalil not only looks as if he was built to play left tackle, it seems he might also be able to do it at a high level in the NFL. That's the initial reaction after Day 1 of the much-anticipated Kalil-Jared Allen matchup passed with a fizzle because Kalil held his own for the most part.

Unlike last year, when Allen ran circles around Charlie Johnson on Johnson's first practice, there were no glaringly dominant plays one way of the other between Kalil and Allen.

"Good matchup," coach Leslie Frazier said. "Looking forward to watching that over time. It looked like Matt held his own for the most part. There were a few times that Jared got around him. But that's to be expected for the most part."

When asked to judge his performance, Kalil, the fourth overall pick in this year's draft, said: "It was a good first day. There's always something I can improve on. I was rusty on some things. You only get better at those things by practicing in pads. I'm looking forward to getting better every day."

Second down ...

During the afternoon practice, it was announced that former Vikings linebacker Matt Blair will become the 20th member of the team's Ring of Honor. He'll be inducted at halftime of the Oct. 25 game between the Vikings and the Buccaneers at Mall of America Field.

"It's an honor, for one thing, to be inducted into the Ring of Honor," said Blair, a six-time Pro Bowl selection. "It's one of those things that you'll look back in a lifetime and [while] you work hard, you don't get there because of yourself. You get there because of your teammates. The guys I played with, the Purple People Eaters, that was huge."

Blair, who ranks second in team history in tackles (1,452) and first in blocked kicks (20), now spends his time in the Twin Cities doing two of the things he loves most, playing golf and taking photos. He'll be playing in Tuesday's 3M Championship pro-am at the TPC of the Twin Cities in Blaine.

Third down ...

The transition from defensive end to weak-side linebacker is not going to happen overnight for Everson Griffen. He's still one of the best young defensive talents on the team. But he's also trying to do something incredibly hard, so he's going to have days like he did Monday. He's going to get out of position and get flattened in space by a third-string center named Quentin Saulsberry. He's going to be a step slow trying to get to his assigned guy, fullback Ryan D'Imperio, on a pass to the right flat that went for a touchdown near the goal line. If anyone can make that transition at this size, it's Griffen. Just don't expect it to be a smooth one. That's why Griffen likely will be stuck on the third team for a while, and could end up back at defensive end at some point.

Fourth down ...

It was assumed that Frazier would give both Brandon Fusco and Geoff Schwartz at least one preseason start apiece as they compete for the starting right guard job. Turns out that's a false assumption, said Frazier, who added that their starts will be determined by how they practice. Fusco is slightly ahead of Schwartz in a battle that's still likely to include Fusco starting the first preseason game and Schwartz starting the second one. ... In the only transaction of the day, the Vikings added Chris Stroud, a rookie cornerback from Webber International, after placing rookie cornerback Nick Taylor on the waived/injured list. Taylor will have major shoulder surgery and is done for the season. Stroud worked out for the Vikings and was at the team's rookie minicamp in May.

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